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Full text of "Youth and the bright Medusa"

SANTA CRUZ 



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Donated By: 

JOHN L. HALVERSON 
Fellow of Adlai E. Stevenson Colfej 

and 

Professor of English Literatui 
1966-1997 

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SANTA CRUZ 



YOUTH AND THE 
BRIGHT MEDUSA 



BOOKS BY 
WILL A GATHER 

ALEXANDER'S BRIDGE 
o PIONEERS! 

THE SONG OF THE LARK 

MY ANTONIA 

YOUTH AND THE BRIGHT MEDUSA 



YOUTH 
AND THE BRIGHT MEDUSA 

BY 

WILLA GATHER 



"We must not look at Qoblin men, 
We must not buy their fruits; 
Who knows upon what soil they fed 
Their hungry, thirsty roots?" 

Qoblin Market 




NEW YORK 

ALFRED-A'KNOPF 

MCMXX 



BOOKS BY 
WILL A GATHER 

ALEXANDER'S BRIDGE 
o PIONEERS! 

THE SONG OF THE LARK 

MY ANTONIA 

YOUTH AND THE BRIGHT MEDUSA 



YOUTH 
AND THE BRIGHT MEDUSA 

BY 

WILLA GATHER 



"We must not look at Qoblin men, 
We must not buy their fruits; 
Who knows upon what soil they fed 
Their hungry, thirsty roots?" 

Qoblin Market 




NEW YORK 

ALFRED -A- KNOPF 

MCMXX 



Univ. Library, UC Santa Cruz t997 



COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY 
WILLA GATHER 



PRINTED IN THK UNITED STATES OT AMERICA 



f* 

3SIA 



CONTENTS 

COMING, APHRODITE! n 

THE DIAMOND MINE 79 

A GOLD SLIPPER 140 

SCANDAL 169 

PAUL'S CASE 199 

A WAGNER MATINEE 235 

THE SCULPTOR'S FUNERAL 248 

" A DEATH IN THE DESERT " 273 



The author wishes to thank McClure's Maga- 
zine, The Century Magazine and Harper's Maga- 
zine for their courtesy in permitting the re-publi- 
cation of three stories in this collection. 

The last four stories in the volume, Paul's Case, 
A Wagner Matinee, The Sculptor's Funeral, " A 
Death in the Desert," are re-printed from the 
author's first book of stories, entitled " The Troll 
Garden," published in 1905. 



YOUTH AND THE 
BRIGHT MEDUSA 



Coming, Aphrodite ! 
i 

DON HEDGER had lived for four years 
on the top floor of an old house on the 
south side of Washington Square, and 
nobody had ever disturbed him. He occupied one 
big room with no outside exposure except on the 
north, where he had built in a many-paned studio 
window that looked upon a court and upon the 
roofs and walls of other buildings. His room 
was very cheerless, since he never got a ray of 
direct sunlight; the south corners were always in 
shadow. In one of the corners was a clothes 
closet, built against the partition, in another a wide 
divan, serving as a seat by day and a bed by night. 
In the front corner, the one farther from the 
window, was a sink, and a table with two gas 
burners where he sometimes cooked his food. 
There, too, in the perpetual dusk, was the dog's 
bed, and often a bone or two for his comfort. 

The dog was a Boston bull terrier, and Hedger 
explained his surly disposition by the fact that he 
had been bred to the point where it told on his 
nerves. His name was Caesar III, and he had 
taken prizes at very exclusive dog shows. When 
ii 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

he and his master went out to prowl about Uni- 
versity Place or to promenade along West Street, 
Caesar III was invariably fresh and shining. His 
pink skin showed through his mottled coat, which 
glistened as if it had just been rubbed with olive 
oil, and he wore a brass-studded collar, bought at 
the smartest saddler's. Hedger, as often as not, 
was hunched up in an old striped blanket coat, 
with a shapeless felt hat pulled over his bushy hair, 
wearing black shoes that had become grey, or 
brown ones that had become black, and he never 
put on gloves unless the day was biting cold. 

Early in May, Hedger learned that he was to 
have a new neighbour in the rear apartment 
two rooms, one large and one small, that faced the 
west. His studio was shut off from the larger of 
these rooms by double doors, which, though they 
were fairly tight, left him a good deal at the mercy 
of the occupant. The rooms had been leased, 
long before he came there, by a trained nurse who 
considered herself knowing in old furniture. She 
went to auction sales and bought up mahogany 
and dirty brass and stored it away here, where she 
meant to live when she retired from nursing. 
Meanwhile, she sub-let her rooms, with their pre- 
cious furniture, to young people who came to New 
York to " write " or to " paint " who proposed 
to live by the sweat of the brow rather than of the 
hand, and who desired artistic surroundings. 
12 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



When Hedger first moved in, these rooms were 
occupied by a young man who tried to write plays, 
and who kept on trying until a week ago, when 
the nurse had put him out for unpaid rent. 

A few days after the playwright left, Hedger 
heard an ominous murmur of voices through the 
bolted double doors : the lady-like intonation of the 
nurse doubtless exhibiting her treasures and 
another voice, also a woman's, but very different; 
young, fresh, unguarded, confident. All the same, 
it would be very annoying to have a woman in 
there. The only bath-room on the floor was at 
the top of the stairs in the front hall, and he would 
always be running into her as he came or went 
from his bath. He would have to be more careful 
to see that Caesar didn't leave bones about the 
hall, too; and she might object when he cooked 
steak and onions on his gas burner. 

As soon as the talking ceased and the women 
left, he forgot them. He was absorbed in a 
study of paradise fish at the Aquarium, staring out 
at people through the glass and green water of 
their tank. It was a highly gratifying idea; the 
incommunicability of one stratum of animal life 
with another, though Hedger pretended it was 
only an experiment in unusual lighting. When he 
heard trunks knocking against the sides of the 
narrow hall, then he realized that she was moving 
in at once. Toward noon, groans and deep gasps 
13 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

and the creaking of ropes, made him aware that .a 
piano was arriving. After the tramp of the mov- 
ers died away down the stairs, somebody touched 
off a few scales and chords on the instrument, and 
then there was peace. Presently he heard her 
lock her door and go down the hall humming 
something; going out to lunch, probably. He 
stuck his brushes in a can of turpentine and put on 
his hat, not stopping to wash his hands. Caesar 
was smelling along the crack under the bolted 
doors; his bony tail stuck out hard as a hickory 
withe, and the hair was standing up about his ele- 
gant collar. 

Hedger encouraged him. u Come along, 
Caesar. You'll soon get used to a new smell." 

In the hall stood an enormous trunk, behind the 
ladder that led to the roof, just opposite Hedger' s 
door. The dog flew at it with a growl of hurt 
amazement. They went down three flights of 
stairs and out into the brilliant May afternoon. 

Behind the Square, Hedger and his dog de- 
scended into a basement oyster house where there 
were no tablecloths on the tables and no handles 
on the coffee cups, and the floor was covered with 
sawdust, and Caesar was always welcome, not 
that he needed any such precautionary flooring. 
All the carpets of Persia would have been safe for 
him. Hedger ordered steak and onions absent- 
mindedly, not realizing why he had an apprehen- 
14 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



sion that this dish might be less readily at hand 
hereafter. While he ate, Caesar sat beside his 
chair, gravely disturbing the sawdust with his tail. 

After lunch Hedger strolled about the Square 
for the dog's health and watched the stages pull 
out; that was almost the very last summer of 
the old horse stages on Fifth Avenue. The foun- 
tain had but lately begun operations for the season 
and was throwing up a mist of rainbow water 
which now and then blew south and sprayed a 
bunch of Italian babies that were being supported 
on the outer rim by older, very little older, broth- 
ers and sisters. Plump robins were hopping 
about on the soil; the grass was newly cut 
and blindingly green. Looking up the Avenue 
through the Arch, one could see the young pop- 
lars with their bright, sticky leaves, and the 
Brevoort glistening in its spring coat of paint, and 
shining horses and carriages, occasionally an 
automobile, mis-shapen and sullen, like an ugly 
threat in a stream of things that were bright and 
beautiful and alive. 

While Caesar and his master were standing by 
the fountain, a girl approached them, crossing the 
Square. Hedger noticed her because she wore a 
lavender cloth suit and carried in her arms a big 
bunch of fresh lilacs. He saw that she was young 
and handsome, beautiful, in fact, with a splen- 
did figure and good action. She, too, paused by 
15 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

the fountain and looked back through the Arch 
up the Avenue. She smiled rather patronizingly 
as she looked, and at the same time seemed de- 
lighted. Her slowly curving upper lip and half- 
closed eyes seemed to say: " You're gay, you're 
exciting, you are quite the right sort of thing; but 
you're none too fine for me! " 

In the moment she tarried, Caesar stealthily 
approached her and sniffed at the hem of her 
lavender skirt, then, when she went south like an 
arrow, he ran back to his master and lifted a face 
full of emotion and alarm, his lower lip twitching 
under his sharp white teeth and his hazel eyes 
pointed with a very definite discovery. He stood 
thus, motionless, while Hedger watched the laven- 
der girl go up the steps and through the door of 
the house in which he lived. 

* You're right, my boy, it's she ! She might be 
worse looking, you know." 

When they mounted to the studio, the new 
lodger's door, at the back of the hall, was a little 
ajar, and Hedger caught the warm perfume of 
lilacs just brought in out of the sun. He was 
used to the musty smell of the old hall carpet. 
(The nurse-lessee had once knocked at his studio 
door and complained that Caesar must be some- 
what responsible for the particular flavour of that 
mustiness, and Hedger had never spoken to her 
since.) He was used to the old smell, and he pre- 
16 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



ferred it to that of the lilacs, and so did his com- 
panion, whose nose was so much more discriminat- 
ing. Hedger shut his door vehemently, and fell 
to work. 

Most young men who dwell in obscure studios 
in New York have had a beginning, come out of 
something, have somewhere a home town, a 
family, a paternal roof. But Don Hedger had 
no such background. He was a foundling, and 
had grown up in a school for homeless boys, where 
book-learning was a negligible part of the curricu- 
lum. When he was sixteen, a Catholic priest took 
him to Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to keep house 
for him. The priest did something to fill in the 
large gaps in the boy's education, taught him 
to like " Don Quixote " . and " The Golden 
Legend," and encouraged him to mess with paints 
and crayons in his room up under the slope of the 
mansard. When Don wanted to go to New York 
to study at the Art League, the priest got him a 
night job as packer in one of the big department 
stores. Since then, Hedger had taken care of 
himself; that was his only responsibility. He was 
singularly unencumbered; had no family duties, no 
social ties, no obligations toward any one but his 
landlord. Since he travelled light, he had trav- 
elled rather far. He had got over a good deal of 
the earth's surface, in spite of the fact that he 
never in his life had more than three hundred dol- 
17 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

lars ahead at any one time, and he had already 
outlived a succession of convictions and revelations 
about his art. 

Though he was now but twenty-six years old, he 
had twice been on the verge of becoming a market- 
able product; once through some studies of New 
York streets he did for a magazine, and once 
through a collection of pastels he brought home 
from New Mexico, which Remington, then at the 
height of his popularity, happened to see, and gen- 
erously tried to push. But on both occasions 
Hedger decided that this was something he didn't 
wish to carry further, simply the old thing over 
again and got nowhere, so he took enquiring 
dealers experiments in a u later manner," that 
made them put him out of the shop. When he 
ran short of money, he could always get any 
amount of commercial work; he was an expert 
draughtsman and worked with lightning speed. 
The rest of his time he spent in groping his wa^( 
from one kind of painting into another, or trav- 
elling about without luggage, like a tramp, and 
he was chiefly occupied with getting rid of ideas 
he had once thought very fine. 

Hedger's circumstances, since he had moved to 
Washington Square, were affluent compared to 
anything he had ever known before. He was now 
able to pay advance rent and turn the key on his 
studio when he went away for four months at a 
18 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



stretch. It didn't occur to him to wish to be 
richer than this. To be sure, he did without a 
great many things other people think necessary, 
but he didn't miss them, because he had never 
had them. He belonged to no clubs, visited no 
houses, had no studio friends, and he ate his din- 
ner alone in some decent little restaurant, even on 
Christmas and New Year's. For days together 
he talked to nobody but his dog and the janitress 
and the lame oysterman. 

After he shut the door and settled down to his 
paradise fish on that first Tuesday in May, Hedger 
forgot all about his new neighbour. When the 
light failed, he took Caesar out for a walk. On 
the way home he did his marketing on West 
Houston Street, with a one-eyed Italian woman 
who always cheated him. After he had cooked 
his beans and scallopini, and drunk half a bot- 
tle of Chianti, he put his dishes in the sink 
and went up on the roof to srnoke. He was the 
only person in the house who ever went to the 
roof, and he had a secret understanding with 
the janitress about it. He was to have " the 
privilege of the roof," as she said, if he opened 
the heavy trapdoor on sunny days to air out 
the upper hall, and was watchful to close it 
when rain threatened. Mrs. Foley was fat and 
dirty and hated to climb stairs, besides, the roof 
was reached by a perpendicular iron ladder, defi- 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

nitely inaccessible to a woman of her bulk, and the 
iron door at the top of it was too heavy for any 
but Hedger' s strong arm to lift. Hedger was not 
above medium height, but he practised with 
weights and dumb-bells, and in the shoulders he 
was as strong as a gorilla. 

So Hedger had the roof to himself. He and 
Caesar often slept up there on hot nights, rolled 
in blankets he had brought home from Arizona. 
He mounted with Caesar under his left arm. The 
dog had never learned to climb a perpendicular 
ladder, and never did he feel so much his master's 
greatness and his own dependence upon him, as 
when he crept under his arm for this perilous 
ascent. Up there was even gravel to scratch in, 
and a dog could do whatever he liked, so long as 
he did not bark. It was a kind of Heaven, which 
no one was strong enough to reach but his great, 
paint-smelling master. 

On this blue May night there was a slender, 
girlish looking young moon in the west, playing 
with a whole company of silver stars. Now and 
then one of them darted away from the group 
and shot off into the gauzy blue with a soft little 
trail of light, like laughter. Hedger and his dog 
were delighted when a star did this. They were 
quite lost in watching the glittering game, when 
they were suddenly diverted by a sound, not 
from the stars, though it was music. It was not 
20 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



the Prologue to Pagliacci, which rose ever and 
anon on hot evenings from an Italian tenement on 
Thompson Street, with the gasps of the corpulent 
baritone who got behind it; nor was it the hurdy- 
gurdy man, who often played at the corner in the 
balmy twilight. No, this was a woman's voice, 
singing the tempestuous, over-lapping phrases of 
Signer Puccini, then comparatively new in the 
world, but already so popular that even Hedger 
recognized his unmistakable gusts of breath. He 
looked about over the roofs; all was blue and still, 
with the well-built chimneys that were never used 
now standing up dark and mournful. He moved 
softly toward the yellow quadrangle where the gas 
from the hall shone up through the half-lifted trap- 
door. Oh yes ! It came up through the hole like 
a strong draught, a big, beautiful voice, and it 
sounded rather like a professional's. A piano had 
arrived in the morning, Hedger remembered. 
This might be a very great nuisance. It would 
be pleasant enough to listen to, if you could turn 
it on and off as you wished; but you couldn't. 
Caesar, with the gas light shining on his collar 
and his ugly but sensitive face, panted and looked 
up for information. Hedger put down a reas- 
suring hand. 

" I don't know. We can't tell yet. It may not 
be so bad." 

He stayed on the roof until all was still below, 
21 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

and finally descended, with quite a new feeling 
about his neighbour. Her voice, like her figure, 
inspired respect, if one did not choose to call it 
admiration. Her door was shut, the transom was 
dark; nothing remained of her but the obtrusive 
trunk, unrightfully taking up room in the narrow 
hall. 

II 

For two days Hedger didn't see her. He 
was painting eight hours a day just then, and 
only went out to hunt for food. He noticed 
that she practised scales and exercises for about 
an hour in the morning; then she locked her 
door, went humming down the hall, and left 
him in peace. He heard her getting her coffee 
ready at about the same time he got his. Earlier 
still, she passed his room on her way to her bath. 
In the evening she sometimes sang, but on the 
whole she didn't bother him. When he was work- 
ing well he did not notice anything much. The 
morning paper lay before his door until he reached 
out for his milk bottle, then he kicked the sheet 
inside and it lay on the floor until evening. Some- 
times he read it and sometimes he did not. He 
forgot there was anything of importance going 
on in the world outside of his third floor studio. 
Nobody had ever taught him that he ought to be 
interested in other people ; in the Pittsburgh steel 
22 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



strike, in the Fresh Air Fund, in the scandal about 
the Babies' Hospital. A grey wolf, living in a 
Wyoming canyon, would hardly have been less con- 
cerned about these things than was Don Hedger. 

One morning he was coming out of the bath- 
room at the front end of the hall, having just 
given Caesar his bath and rubbed him into a glow 
with a heavy towel. Before the door, lying in 
wait for him, as it were, stood a tall figure in a 
flowing blue silk dressing gown that fell away 
from her marble arms. In her hands she carried 
various accessories of the bath. 

" I wish," she said distinctly, standing in his 
way, " I wish you wouldn't wash your dog in the 
tub. I never heard of such a thing ! I've found 
his hair in the tub, and I've smelled a doggy smell, 
and now I've caught you at it. It's an outrage ! " 

Hedger was badly frightened. She was so tall 
and positive, and was fairly blazing with beauty 
and anger. He stood blinking, holding on to 
his sponge and dog-soap, feeling that he ought to 
bow very low to her. But what he actually said 
was: 

" Nobody has ever objected before. I always 
wash the tub, and, anyhow, he's cleaner than 
most people." 

"Cleaner than me?" her eyebrows went up, 
her white arms and neck and her fragrant person 
seemed to scream at him like a band of outraged 
23 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

nymphs. Something flashed through his mind 
about a man who was turned into a dog, or was 
pursued by dogs, because he unwittingly intruded 
upon the bath of beauty. 

" No, I didn't mean that/' he muttered, turning 
scarlet under the bluish stubble of his muscular 
jaws. " But I know he's cleaner than I am." 

"That I don't doubt!" Her voice sounded 
like a soft shivering of crystal, and with a smile 
of pity she drew the folds of her voluminous blue 
Vobe close about her and allowed the wretched 
man to pass. Even Caesar was frightened; he 
darted like a streak down the hall, through the 
door and to his own bed in the corner among the 
bones. 

Hedger stood still in the doorway, listening to 
indignant sniffs and coughs and a great swishing 
of water about the sides of the tub. He had 
washed it; but as he had washed it with Caesar's 
sponge, it was quite possible that a few bristles 
remained; the dog was shedding now. The play- 
wright had never objected, nor had the jovial 
illustrator who occupied the front apartment, 
but he, as he admitted, " was usually pye-eyed, 
when he wasn't in Buffalo." He went home to 
Buffalo sometimes to rest his nerves. 

It had never occurred to Hedger that any one 
would mind using the tub after Caesar; but 
then, he had never seen a beautiful girl caparisoned 
24 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



for the bath before. As soon as he beheld her 
standing there, he realized the unfitness of it. For 
that matter, she ought not to step into a tub that 
any other mortal had bathed in ; the illustrator was 
sloppy and left cigarette ends on the moulding. 

All morning as he worked he was gnawed by a 
spiteful desire to get back at her. It rankled 
that he had been so vanquished by her disdain. 
When he heard her locking her door to go out for 
lunch, he stepped quickly into the hall in his messy 
painting coat, and addressed her. 

" I don't wish to be exigent, Miss," he had 
certain grand words that he used upon occasion 
" but if this is your trunk, it's rather in the way 
here." 

" Oh, very well ! " she exclaimed carelessly, 
dropping her keys into her handbag. " I'll have 
it moved when I can get a man to do it," and she 
went down the hall with her free, roving stride. 

Her name, Hedger discovered from her letters, 
which the postman left on the table in the lower 
hall, was Eden Bower. 

Ill 

In the closet that was built against the partition 

separating his room from Miss Bower's, Hedger 

kept all his wearing apparel, some of it on hooks 

and hangers, some of it on the floor. When he 

25 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

opened his closet door now-a-days, little dust- 
coloured insects flew out on downy wing, and he 
suspected that a brood of moths were hatching 
in his winter overcoat. Mrs. Foley, the jan- 
itress, told him to bring down all his heavy clothes 
and she would give them a beating and hang them 
in the court. The closet was in such disorder that 
he shunned the encounter, but one hot afternoon 
he set himself to the task. First he threw out a 
pile of forgotten laundry and tied it up in a sheet. 
The bundle stood as high as his middle when he 
had knotted the corners. Then he got his shoes 
and overshoes together. When he took his>over- 
coat from its place against the partition, a long 
ray of yellow light shot across the dark enclosure, 
a knot hole, evidently, in the high wainscoating 
of the west room. He had never noticed it be- 
fore, and without realizing what he was doing, 
he stooped and squinted through it. 

Yonder, in a pool of sunlight, stood his new 
neighbour, wholly unclad, doing exercises of some 
sort before a long gilt mirror. Hedger did not 
happen to think how unpardonable it was of him 
to watch her. Nudity was not improper to any 
one who had worked so much from the figure, and 
he continued to look, simply because he had never 
seen a woman's body so beautiful as this one, 
positively glorious in action. As she swung her 
arms and changed from one pivot of motion to 
26 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



another, muscular energy seemed to flow through 
her from her toes to her finger-tips. The soft 
flush of exercise and the gold of afternoon sun 
played over her flesh together, enveloped her in 
a luminous mist which, as she turned and twisted, 
made now an arm, now a shoulder, now a thigh, 
dissolve in pure light and instantly recover its out- 
line with the next gesture. Hedger's fingers 
curved as if he were holding a crayon; mentally he 
was doing the whole figure in a single running 
line, and the charcoal seemed to explode in his 
hand at the point where the energy of each ges- 
ture was discharged into the whirling disc of 
light, from a foot or shoulder, from the up-thrust 
chin or the lifted breasts. 

He could not have told whether he watched 
her for six minutes or sixteen. When her gym- 
nastics were over, she paused to catch up a lock 
of hair that had come down, and examined with 
solicitude a little reddish mole that grew under her 
left arm-pit. Then, with her hand on her hip, 
she walked unconcernedly across the room and 
disappeared through the door into her bedcham- 
ber. 

Disappeared Don Hedger was crouching on 
his knees, staring at the golden shower which 
poured in through the west windows, at the lake 
of gold sleeping on the faded Turkish carpet. 
The spot was enchanted; a vision out of Alex- 
27 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

andria, out of the remote pagan past, had bathed 
itself there in Helianthine fire. 

When he crawled out of his closet, he stood 
blinking at the grey sheet stuffed with laundry, 
not knowing what had happened to him. He 
felt a little sick as he contemplated the bundle. 
Everything here was different; he hated the dis- 
order of the place, the grey prison light, his old 
shoes and himself and all his slovenly habits. 
The black calico curtains that ran on wires over 
his big window were white with dust. There 
were three greasy frying pans in the sink, and 
the sink itself He felt desperate. He 
couldn't stand this another minute. He took up 
an armful of winter clothes and ran down four 
flights into the basement. 

" Mrs. Foley," he began, " I want my room 
cleaned this afternoon, thoroughly cleaned. Can 
you get a woman for me right away? " 

" Is it company you're having? " the fat, dirty 
janitress enquired. Mrs. Foley was the widow 
of a useful Tammany man, and she owned real 
estate in Flatbush. She was huge and soft as a 
feather bed. Her face and arms were perman- 
ently coated with dust, grained like wood where 
the sweat had trickled. 

" Yes, company. That's it." 

" Well, this is a queer time of the day to be 
asking for a cleaning woman. It's likely I can 
.28 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



get you old Lizzie, if she's not drunk. I'll send 
Willy round to see." 

Willy, the son of fourteen, roused from the 
stupor and stain of his fifth box of cigarettes by 
the gleam of a quarter, went out. In five min- 
utes he returned with old Lizzie, she smelling 
strong of spirits and wearing several jackets which 
she had put on one over the other, and a number 
of skirts, long and short, which made her resemble 
an animated dish-clout. She had, of course, to 
borrow her equipment from Mrs. Foley, and toiled 
up the long flights, dragging mop and pail and 
broom. She told Hedger to be of good cheer, 
for he had got the right woman for the job, and 
showed him a great leather strap she wore about 
her wrist to prevent dislocation of tendons. She 
swished about the place, scattering dust and splash- 
ing soapsuds, while he watched her in nervous 
despair. He stood over Lizzie and made her 
scour the sink, directing her roughly, then paid 
her and got rid of her. Shutting the door on his 
failure, he hurried off with his dog to lose him- 
self among the stevedores and dock labourers on 
West Street. 

A strange chapter began for Don Hedger. 
Day after day, at that hour in the afternoon, the 
hour before his neighbour dressed for dinner, he 
crouched down in his closet to watch her go 
through her mysterious exercises. It did not 
29 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

occur to him that his conduct was detestable ; 
there was nothing shy or retreating about this 
unclad girl, a bold body, studying itself quite 
coolly and evidently well pleased with itself, do- 
ing all this for a purpose. Hedger scarcely re- 
garded his action as conduct at all; it was some- 
thing that had happened to him. More than once 
he went out and tried to stay away for the whole 
afternoon, but at about five o'clock he was sure 
to find himself among his old shoes in the dark. 
The pull of that aperture was stronger than his 
will, and he had always considered his will the 
strongest thing about him. When she threw her- 
self upon the divan and lay resting, he still stared, 
holding his breath. His nerves were so on edge 
that a sudden noise made him start and brought 
out the sweat on his forehead. The dog w r ould 
come and tug at his sleeve, knowing that some- 
thing was wrong with his master. If he at- 
tempted a mournful whine, those strong hands 
closed about his throat. 

When Hedger came slinking out of his closet, 
he sat down on the edge of the couch, sat for 
hours without moving. He was not painting at 
all now. This thing, whatever it was, drank him 
up as ideas had sometimes done, and he sank into 
a stupor of idleness as deep and dark as the stupor 
of work. He could not understand it; he was no 
boy, he had worked from models for years, and a 
30 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



woman's body was no mystery to him. Yet now 
he did nothing but sit and think about one. He 
slept very little, and with the first light of morn- 
ing he awoke as completely possessed by this 
woman as if he had been with her all the night 
before. The unconscious operations of life went 
on in him only to perpetuate this excitement. 
His brain held but one image now vibrated, 
burned with it. It was a heathenish feeling; 
without friendliness, almost without tenderness. 
Women had come and gone in Hedger's life. 
Not having had a mother to begin with, his rela- 
tions with them, whether amorous or friendly, 
had been casual. He got on well with janitresses 
and wash-women, with Indians and with the peas- 
ant women of foreign countries. He had friends 
among the silk-skirt factory girls who came to 
eat their lunch in Washington Square, and he 
sometimes took a model for a day in the country. 
He felt an unreasoning antipathy toward the well- 
dressed women he saw coming out of big shops, 
or driving in the Park. If, on his way to the 
Art Museum, he noticed a pretty girl standing on 
the steps of one of the houses on upper Fifth 
Avenue, he frowned at her and went by with his 
shoulders hunched up as if he were cold. He had 
never known such girls, or heard them talk, or 
seen the inside of the houses in which they lived; 
but he believed them all to be artificial and, in 
31 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

an aesthetic sense, perverted. He saw them en- 
slaved by desire of merchandise and manufactured 
articles, effective only in making life complicated 
and insincere and in embroidering it with ugly 
and meaningless trivialities. They were enough, 
he thought, to make one almost forget woman as 
she existed in art, in thought, and in the universe. 

He had no desire to know the woman who had, 
for the time at least, so broken up his life, no 
curiosity about her every-day personality. He 
shunned any revelation of it, and he listened for 
Miss Bower's coming and going, not to encounter, 
but to avoid her. He wished that the girl who 
wore shirt-waists and got letters from Chicago 
would keep out of his way, that she did not exist. 
With her he had naught to make. But in a room 
full of sun, before an old mirror, on a little en- 
chanted rug of sleeping colours, he had seen a 
woman who emerged naked through a door, and 
disappeared naked. He thought of that body as 
never having been clad, or as having worn the 
stuffs and dyes of all the centuries but his own. 
And for him she had no geographical associations; 
unless with Crete, or Alexandria, or Veronese's 
Venice. She was the immortal conception, the 
perennial theme. 

The first break in Hedger's lethargy occurred 
one afternoon when two young men came to take 
Eden Bower out to dine. They went into her 
32 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



music room, laughed and talked for a few min- 
utes, and then took her away with them. They 
were gone a long while, but he did not go out for 
food himself; he waited for them to come back. 
At last he heard them coming down the hall, gayer 
and more talkative than when they left. One of 
them sat down at the piano, and they all began to 
sing. This Hedger found absolutely unendura- 
ble. He snatched up his hat and went running 
down the stairs. Caesar leaped beside him, hop- 
ing that old times were coming back. They had 
supper in the oysterman's basement and then sat 
down in front of their ow r n doorway. The moon 
stood full over the Square, a thing of regal glory; 
but Hedger did not see the moon; he was look- 
ing, murderously, for men. Presently two, wear- 
ing straw hats and white trousers and carrying 
canes, came down the steps from his house. He 
rose and dogged them across the Square. They 
were laughing and seemed very much elated about 
something. As one stopped to light a cigarette, 
Hedger caught from the other: 

" Don't you think she has a beautiful talent? " 
His companion threw away his match. " She 
has a beautiful figure." They both ran to catch 
the stage. 

Hedger went back to his studio. The light 
was shining from her transom. For the first time 
he violated her privacy at night, and peered 
33 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

through that fatal aperture. She was sitting, 
fully dressed, in the window, smoking a cigarette 
and looking out over the housetops. He watched 
her until she rose, looked about her with a dis- 
dainful, crafty smile, and turned out the light. 

The next morning, when Miss Bower went out, 
Hedger followed her. Her white skirt gleamed 
ahead of him as she sauntered about the Square. 
She sat down behind the Garibaldi statue and 
opened a music book she carried. She turned the 
leaves carelessly, and several times glanced in his 
direction. He was on the point of going over 
to her, when she rose quickly and looked up at 
the sky. A flock of pigeons had risen from some- 
where in the crowded Italian quarter to the south, 
and were wheeling rapidly up through the morn- 
ing air, soaring and dropping, scattering and com- 
ing together, now grey, now white as silver, as 
they caught or intercepted the sunlight. She put 
up her hand to shade her eyes and followed them 
with a kind of defiant delight in her face. 

Hedger came and stood beside her. " You've 
surely seen them before? " 

" Oh, yes," she replied, still looking up. " I 
see them every day from my windows. They al- 
ways come home about five o'clock. Where do 
they live?" 

" I don't know. Probably some Italian raises 
34 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



them for the market. They were here long be- 
fore I came, and I've been here four years." 

" In that same gloomy room? Why didn't you 
take mine when it was* vacant? " 

" It isn't gloomy. That's the best light for 
painting." 

" Oh, is it? I don't know anything about 
painting. I'd like to see your pictures sometime. 
You have such a lot in there. Don't they get 
dusty, piled up against the wall like that? " 

" Not very. I'd be glad to show them to you. 
Is your name really Eden Bower? I've seen your 
letters on the table." 

" Well, it's the name I'm going to sing under. 
My father's name is Bowers, but my friend Mr. 
Jones, a Chicago newspaper man who writes 
about music, told me to drop the ' s.' He's crazy 
about my voice." 

Miss Bower didn't usually tell the whole story, 
about anything. Her first name, when she 
lived in Huntington, Illinois, was Edna, but Mr. 
Jones had persuaded her to change it to one which 
he felt would be worthy of her future. She was 
quick to take suggestions, though she told him 
she " didn't see what was the matter with 
4 Edna.' " 

She explained to Hedger that she was going to 
Paris to study. She was waiting in New York 
35 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

for Chicago friends who were to take her over, 
but who had been detained. " Did you study in 
Paris? " she asked. 

" No, I've never been in Paris. But I was in 
the south of France all last summer, studying 

with C . He's the biggest man among the 

moderns, at least I think so." 

Miss Bower sat down and made room for him 
on the bench. " Do tell me about it. I expected 
to be there by this time, and I can't wait to find 
out what it's like." 

Hedger began to relate how he had seen some 
of this Frenchman's work in an exhibition, and de- 
ciding at once that this was the man for him, he 
had taken a boat for Marseilles the next week, 
going over steerage. He proceeded at once to 
the little town on the coast where his painter 
lived, and presented himself. The man never 
took pupils, but because Hedger had come so far, 
he let him stay. Hedger lived at the master's 
house and every day they went out together to 
paint, sometimes on the blazing rocks down by 
the sea. They wrapped themselves in light 
woollen blankets and didn't feel the heat. Being 
there and working with C was being in Para- 
dise, Hedger concluded; he learned more in three 
months than in all his life before. 

Eden Bower laughed. " You're a funny fel- 
low. Didn't you do anything but work? Are 

-36- 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



the women very beautiful? Did you have 
awfully good things to eat and drink? " 

Hedger said some of the women were fine look- 
ing, especially one girl who went about selling 
fish and lobsters. About the food there was 
nothing remarkable, except the ripe figs, he 
liked those. They drank sour wine, and used 
goat-butter, which was strong and full of hair, as 
it was churned in a goat skin. 

" But don't they have parties or banquets? 
Aren't there any fine hotels down there? " 

' Yes, but they are all closed in summer, and 
the country people are poor. It's a beautiful 
country, though." 

"How, beautiful?" she persisted. 

" If you want to go in, I'll show you some 
sketches, and you'll see." 

Miss Bower rose. " All right. I won't go to 
my fencing lesson this morning. Do you fence? 
Here comes your dog. You can't move but he's 
after you. He always makes a face at me when 
I meet him in the hall, and shows his nasty little 
teeth as if he wanted to bite me." 

In the studio Hedger got out his sketches, but 
to Miss Bower, whose favourite pictures were 
Christ Before Pilate and a redhaired Magdalen 
of Henner, these landscapes were not at all beau- 
tiful, and they gave her no idea of any country 
whatsoever. She was careful not to commit her- 
37 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

self, however. Her vocal teacher had already 
convinced her that she had a great deal to learn 
about many things. 

' Why don't we go out to lunch somewhere? " 
Hedger asked, and began to dust his fingers with 
a handkerchief which he got out of sight as 
swiftly as possible. 

" All right, the Brevoort," she said carelessly. 
" I think that's a good place, and they have good 
wine. I don't care for cocktails." 

Hedger felt his chin uneasily. " I'm afraid I 
haven't shaved this morning. If you could wait 
for me in the Square? It won't take me ten min- 
utes." 

Left alone, he found a clean collar and hand- 
kerchief, brushed his coat and blacked his shoes, 
and last of all dug up ten dollars from the bottom 
of an old copper kettle he had brought from 
Spain. His winter hat was of such a complexion 
that the Brevoort hall boy winked at the porter 
as he took it and placed it on the rack in a row of 
fresh straw ones. 

IV 

That afternoon Eden Bower was lying on the 
couch in her music room, her face turned to the 
window, watching the pigeons. Reclining thus 
she could see none of the neighbouring roofs, only 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



the sky itself and the birds that crossed and re- 
crossed her field of vision, white as scraps of pa- 
per blowing in the wind. She was thinking that 
she was young and handsome and had had a good 
lunch, that a very easy-going, light-hearted city 
lay in the streets below her; and she was wonder- 
ing why she found this queer painter chap, with his 
lean, bluish cheeks and heavy black eyebrows, 
more interesting than the smart young men she 
met at her teacher's studio. 

Eden Bower was, at twenty, very much the same 
person that we all know her to be at forty, ex- 
cept that she knew a great deal less. But one 
thing she knew: that she was to be Eden Bower. 
She was like some one standing before a great 
show window full of beautiful and costly things, 
deciding which she will order. She understands 
that they will not all be delivered immediately, 
but one by one they will arrive at her door. She 
already knew some of the many things that were 
to happen to her; for instance, that the Chicago 
millionaire who was going to take her abroad 
with his sister as chaperone, would eventually 
press his claim in quite another manner. He was 
the most circumspect of bachelors, afraid of 
everything obvious, even of women who were too 
flagrantly handsome. He was a nervous collector 
of pictures and furniture, a nervous patron of 
music, and a nervous host; very cautious about his 
39 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

health, and about any course of conduct that might 
make him ridiculous. But she knew that he 
would at last throw all his precautions to the 
winds. 

People like Eden Bower are inexplicable. Her 
father sold farming machinery in Huntington, 
Illinois, and she had grown up with no acquaint- 
ances or experiences outside of that prairie town. 
Yet from her earliest childhood she had not one 
conviction or opinion in common with the peo- 
ple about her, the only people she knew. Be- 
fore she was out of short dresses she had made 
up her mind that she was going to be an actress, 
that she would live far away in great cities, that 
she would be much admired by men and would 
have everything she wanted. When she was 
thirteen, and was already singing and reciting for 
church entertainments, she read in some illus- 
trated magazine a long article about the late Czar 
of Russia, then just come to the throne or about 
to come to it. After that, lying in the hammock 
on the front porch on summer evenings, or sitting 
through a long sermon in the family pew, she 
amused herself by trying to make up her mind 
whether she would or would not be the Czar's 
mistress when she played in his Capital. Now 
Edna had met this fascinating word only in the 
novels of Ouida, her hard-worked little mother 
kept a long row of them in the upstairs store- 
40 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



room, behind the linen chest. In Huntington, 
women who bore that relation to men were called 
by a very different name, and their lot was not an 
enviable one; of all the shabby and poor, they 
were the shabbiest. But then, Edna had never 
lived in Huntington, not even before she began 
to find books like " Sapho " and " Mademoiselle 
de Maupin," secretly sold in paper covers through- 
out Illinois. It was as if she had come into Hunt- 
ington, into the Bowers family, on one of the 
trains that puffed over the marshes behind their 
back fence all day long, and was waiting for an- 
other train to take her out. 

As she grew older and handsomer, she had 
many beaux, but these small-town boys didn't in- 
terest her. If a lad kissed her when he brought 
her home from a dance, she was indulgent and she 
rather liked it. But if he pressed her further, 
she slipped away from him, laughing. After she 
began to sing in Chicago, she was consistently dis- 
creet. She stayed as a guest in rich people's 
houses, and she knew that she was being watched 
like a rabbit in a laboratory. Covered up in bed, 
with the lights out, she thought her own thoughts, 
and laughed. 

This summer in New York was her first taste of 

freedom. The Chicago capitalist, after all his 

arrangements were made for sailing, had been 

compelled to go to Mexico to look after oil inter- 

41 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

ests. His sister knew an excellent singing master 
in New York. Why should not a discreet, well- 
balanced girl like Miss Bower spend the summer 
there, studying quietly? The capitalist suggested 
that his sister might enjoy a summer on Long Is- 
land; he would rent the Griffith's place for her, 
with all the servants, and Eden could stay there. 
But his sister met this proposal with a cold stare. 
So it fell out, that between selfishness and greed, 
Eden got a summer all her own, which really 
did a great deal toward making her an artist and 
whatever else she was afterward to become. She 
had time to look about, to .watch without being 
watched; to select diamonds in one window and 
furs in another, to select shoulders and moustaches 
in the big hotels where she went to lunch. She 
had the easy freedom of obscurity and the con- 
sciousness of power. She enjoyed both. She was 
in no hurry. 

While Eden Bower watched the pigeons, Don 
Hedger sat on the other side of the bolted doors, 
looking into a pool of dark turpentine, at his idle 
brushes, wondering why a woman could do this 
to him. He, too, was sure of his future and knew 
that he was a chosen man. He could not know, of 
course, that he was merely the first to fall under 
a fascination which was to be disastrous to a few 
men and pleasantly stimulating to many thou- 
sands. Each of these two young people sensed 
42 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



the future, but not completely. Don Hedger 
knew that nothing much would ever happen to 
him. Eden Bower understood that to her a great 
deal would happen. But she did not guess that 
her neighbour would have more tempestuous ad- 
ventures sitting in his dark studio than she would 
find in all the capitals of Europe, or in all the 
latitude of conduct she was prepared to permit 
herself. 



One Sunday morning Eden was crossing the 
Square with a spruce young man in a white flannel 
suit and a panama hat. They had been break- 
fasting at the Brevoort and he was coaxing her 
to let him come up to her rooms and sing for an 
hour. 

" No, I've got to write letters. You must run 
along now. I see a friend of mine over there, and 
I want to ask him about something before I 
go up." 

" That fellow with the dog? Where did you 
pick him up? " the young man glanced toward the 
seat under a sycamore where Hedger was reading 
the morning paper. 

" Oh, he's an old friend from the West," said 

Eden easily. " I won't introduce you, because he 

doesn't like people. He's a recluse. Good-bye. 

I can't be sure about Tuesday. I'll go with you 

43 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

if I have time after my lesson." She nodded, left 
him, and went over to the seat littered with news- 
papers. The young man went up the Avenue 
without looking back. 

"Well, what are you going to do today? 
Shampoo this animal all morning?" Eden en- 
quired teasingly. 

Hedger made room for her on the seat. 
" No, at twelve o'clock I'm going out to Coney 
Island. One of my models is going up in a 
balloon this afternoon. I've often promised to 
go and see her, and now I'm going." 

Eden asked if models usually did such stunts. 
No, Hedger told her, but Molly Welch added to 
her earnings in that way. " I believe," he added, 
u she likes the excitement of it. She's got a good 
deal of spirit. That's why I like to paint her. 
So many models have flaccid bodies." 

"And she hasn't, eh? Is she the one who 
comes to see you? I can't help hearing her, she 
talks so loud." 

"Yes, she has a rough voice, but she's a fine 
girl. I don't suppose you'd be interested in go- 
ing?" 

" I don't know," Eden sat tracing patterns on 
the asphalt with the end of her parasol. " Is it 
any fun? I got up feeling I'd like to do some- 
thing different today. It's the first Sunday I've 
not had to sing in church. I had that engagement 
44 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



for breakfast at the Brevoort, but it wasn't very 
exciting. That chap can't talk about anything but 
himself." 

Hedger warmed a little. " If you've never 
been to Coney Island, you ought to go. It's nice 
to see all the people; tailors and bar-tenders and 
prize-fighters with their best girls, and all sorts of 
folks taking a holiday." 

Eden looked sidewise at him. So one ought to 
be interested in people of that kind, ought one? 
He was certainly a funny fellow. Yet he was 
never, somehow, tiresome. She had seen a good 
deal of him lately, but she kept wanting to know 
him better, to find out what made him different 
from men like the one she had just left whether 
he really was as different as he seemed. " I'll go 
with you," she said at last, " if you'll leave that at 
home." She pointed to Caesar's flickering ears 
with her sunshade. 

" But he's half the fun. You'd like to hear him 
bark at the waves when they come in." 

" No, I wouldn't. He's jealous and disagreea- 
ble if he sees you talking to any one else. Look at 
him now." 

" Of course, if you make a face at him. He 
knows what that means, and he makes a worse 
face. He likes Molly Welch, and she'll be dis- 
appointed if I don't bring him." 

Eden said decidedly that he couldn't take both 

45 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

of them. So at twelve o'clock when she and 
Hedger got on the boat at Desbrosses street, 
Caesar was lying on his pallet, with a bone. 

Eden enjoyed the boat-ride. It was the first 
time she had been on the water, and she felt as if 
she were embarking for France. The light warm 
breeze and the plunge of the waves made her very 
wide awake, and she liked crowds of any kind. 
They went to the balcony of a big, noisy restaur- 
ant and had a shore dinner, with tall steins of 
beer. Hedger had got a big advance from his 
advertising firm since he first lunched with Miss 
Bower ten days ago, and he was ready for any- 
thing. 

After dinner they went to the tent behind the 
bathing beach, where the tops of two balloons 
bulged out over the canvas. A red-faced man 
in a linen suit stood in front of the tent, shouting 
in a hoarse voice and telling the people that if 
the crowd was good for five dollars more, a beau- 
tiful young woman would risk her life for their 
entertainment. Four little boys in dirty red uni.- 
forms ran about taking contributions in their pill- 
box hats. One of the balloons was bobbing up 
and down in its tether and people were shoving 
forward to get nearer the tent. 

14 Is it dangerous, as he pretends?" Eden 
asked. 

" Molly says it's simple enough if nothing goes 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



wrong with the balloon. Then it would be all 
over, I suppose. " 

" Wouldn't you like to go up with her? " 

"I? Of course not. I'm not fond of taking 
foolish risks." 

Eden sniffed. " I shouldn't think sensible risks 
would be very much fun." 

Hedger did not answer, for just then every one 
began to shove the other way and shout, " Look 
out. There she goes! " and a band of six pieces 
commenced playing furiously. 

As the balloon rose from its tent enclosure, they 
saw a girl in green tights standing in the basket, 
holding carelessly to one of the ropes with one 
hand and with the other waving to the spectators. 
A long rope trailed behind to keep the balloon 
from blowing out to sea. 

As it soared, the figure in green tights in the 
basket diminished to a mere spot, and the balloon 
itself, in the brilliant light, looked like a big silver- 
grey bat, with its wings folded. When it began to 
sink, the girl stepped through the hole in the 
basket to a trapeze that hung below, and grace- 
fully descended through the air, holding to the 
rod with both hands, keeping her body taut and 
her feet close together. The crowd, which had 
grown very large by this time, cheered vocifer- 
ously. The men took off their hats and waved, 
little boys shouted, and fat old women, shining 
47 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

with the heat and a beer lunch, murmured admir- 
ing comments upon the balloonist's figure. 
" Beautiful legs, she has ! " 

" That's so," Hedger whispered. " Not many 
girls would look well in that position." Then, for 
some reason, he blushed a slow, dark, painful 
crimson. 

The balloon descended slowly, a little way from 
the tent, and the red-faced man in the linen suit 
caught Molly Welch before her feet touched the 
ground, and pulled her to one side. The band 
struck up " Blue Bell " by way of welcome, and 
one of the sweaty pages ran forward and pre- 
sented the balloonist with a large bouquet of arti- 
ficial flowers. She smiled and thanked him, and 
ran back across the sand to the tent. 

" Can't we go inside and see her? " Eden asked. 
" You can explain to the door man. I want to 
meet her." Edging forward, she herself ad- 
dressed the man in the linen suit and slipped some- 
thing from her purse into his hand. 

They found Molly seated before a trunk that 
had a mirror in the lid and a u make-up " outfit 
spread upon the tray. She was wiping the cold 
cream and powder from her neck with a discarded 
chemise. 

" Hello, Don," she said cordially. " Brought 
a friend?" 

Eden liked her. She had an easy, friendly 
48 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



manner, and there was something boyish and 
devil-may-care about her. 

" Yes, it's fun. I'm mad about it," she said in 
reply to Eden's questions. " I always want to 
let go, when I come down on the bar. You don't 
feel your weight at all, as you would on a station- 
ary trapeze." 

The big drum boomed outside, and the pub- 
licity man began shouting to newly arrived boat- 
loads. Miss Welch took a last pull at her cig- 
arette. " Now you'll have to get out, Don. I 
change for the next act. This time I go up in a 
black evening dress, and lose the skirt in the basket 
before I start down." 

" Yes, go along," said Eden. " Wait for me 
outside the door. I'll stay and help her dress." 

Hedger waited and waited, while women of 
every build bumped into him and begged his par- 
don, and the red pages ran about holding out 
their caps for coins, and the people ate and per- 
spired and shifted parasols against the sun. 
When the band began to play a two-step, all the 
bathers ran up out of the surf to watch the ascent. 
The second balloon bumped and rose, and the 
crowd began shouting to the girl in a black evening 
dress who stood leaning against the ropes and 
smiling. " It's a new girl," they called. " It 
ain't the Countess this time. You're a peach, 
girlie!" 

49 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

The balloonist acknowledged these compli- 
ments, bowing and looking down over the sea of 
upturned faces, but Hedger was determined she 
should not see him, and he darted behind the tent- 
fly. He was suddenly dripping with cold sweat, 
his mouth was full of the bitter taste of anger and 
his tongue felt stiff behind his teeth. Molly 
Welch, in a shirt-waist and a white tam-o'-shanter 
cap, slipped out from the tent under his arm and 
laughed up in his face. " She's a crazy one you 
brought along. She'll get what she wants ! " 

" Oh, I'll settle with you, all right ! " Hedger 
brought out with difficulty. 

" It's not my fault, Donnie. I couldn't do any- 
thing with her. She bought me off. What's the 
matter with you? Are you soft on her? She's 
safe enough. It's as easy as rolling off a log, if 
you keep cool." Molly Welch was rather excited 
herself, and she was chewing gum at a high speed 
as she stood beside him, looking up at the floating 
silver cone. " Now watch," she exclaimed* sud- 
denly. " She's coming down on the bar. I ad- 
vised her to cut that out, but you see she does it 
first-rate. And she got rid of the skirt, too. 
Those black tights show off her legs very well. 
She keeps her feet together like I told her, and 
makes a good line along the back. See the light 
on those silver slippers, that was a good idea 
50 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



I had. Come along to meet her. Don't be a 
grouch; she's done it fine! " 

Molly tweaked his elbow, and then left him 
standing like a stump, while she ran down the 
beach with the crowd. 

Though Hedger was sulking, his eye could not 
help seeing the low blue welter of the sea, the ar- 
rested bathers, standing in the surf, their arms and 
legs stained red by the dropping sun, all shading 
their eyes and gazing upward at the slowly fall- 
ing silver star. 

Molly Welch and the manager caught Eden 
under the arms and lifted her aside, a red page 
dashed up with a bouquet, and the band struck 
up " Blue Bell." Eden laughed and bowed, took 
Molly's arm, and ran up the sand in her black 
tights and silver slippers, dodging the friendly 
old women, and the gallant sports who wanted to 
offer their homage on the spot. 

When she emerged from the tent, dressed in her 
own clothes, that part of the beach was almost 
deserted. She stepped to her companion's side 
and said carelessly: "Hadn't we better try to 
catch this boat? I hope you're not sore at me. 
Really, it was lots of fun." 

Hedger looked at his watch. " Yes, we have 
fifteen minutes to get to the boat," he said politely. 

As they walked toward the pier, one of the 
51 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

pages ran up panting. " Lady, you're carrying 
oft the bouquet," he said, aggrievedly. 

Eden stopped and looked at the bunch of spotty 
cotton roses in her hand. " Of course. I want 
them for a souvenir. You gave them to me your- 
self." 

" I give 'em to you for looks, but you can't take 
'em away. They belong to the show." 

" Oh, you always use the same bunch? " 

" Sure we do. There ain't too much money in 
this business." 

She laughed and tossed them back to him. 
" Why are you angry? " she asked Hedger. " I 
wouldn't have done it if I'd been with some fel- 
lows, but I thought you were the sort who wouldn't 
mind. Molly didn't for a minute think you 
would." 

" What possessed you to do such a fool thing? " 
he asked roughly. 

" I don't know. When I saw her coming 
down, I wanted to try it. It looked exciting. 
Didn't I hold myself as well as she did? " 

Hedger shrugged his shoulders, but in his heart 
he forgave her. 

The return boat was not crowded, though the 
boats that passed them, going out, were packed 
to the rails. The sun was setting. Boys and 
girls sat on the long benches with their arms about 
each other, singing. Eden felt a strong wish to 
52 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



propitiate her companion, to be alone with him. 
She had been curiously wrought up by her balloon 
trip; it was a lark, but not very satisfying unless 
one came back to something after the flight. She 
wanted to be admired and adored. Though Eden 
said nothing, and sat with her arms limp on the 
rail in front of her, looking languidly at the rising 
silhouette of the city and the bright path of the 
sun, Hedger felt a strange drawing near to her. 
If he but brushed her white skirt with his knee, 
there was an instant communication between them, 
such as there had never been before. They did 
not talk at all, but when they went over the gang- 
plank she took his arm and kept her shoulder close 
to his. He felt as if they were enveloped in a 
highly charged atmosphere, an invisible network 
of subtle, almost painful sensibility. They had 
somehow taken hold of each other. 

An hour later, they were dining in the back 
garden of a little French hotel on Ninth Street, 
long since passed away. It was cool and leafy 
there, and the mosquitoes were not very numerous. 
A party of South Americans at another table were 
drinking champagne, and Eden murmured that 
she thought she would like some, if it were not 
too expensive. " Perhaps it will make me think 
I am in the balloon again. That was a very 
nice feeling. You've forgiven me, haven't 



you?" 



53 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

Hedger gave her a quick straight look from 
under his black eyebrows, and something went 
over her that was like a chill, except that it was 
warm and feathery. She drank most of the wine ; 
her companion was indifferent to it. He was 
talking more to her tonight than he had ever done 
before. She asked him about a new picture she 
had seen in his room; a queer thing full of stiff, 
supplicating female figures. " It's Indian, isn't 
it?" 

" Yes. I call it Rain Spirits, or maybe, Indian 
Rain. In the Southwest, where I've been a good 
deal, the Indian traditions make women have to 
do with the rain-fall. They were supposed to 
control it, somehow, and to be able to find springs, 
and make moisture come out of the earth. You 
see I'm trying to learn to paint what people think 
and feel; to get away from all that photographic 
stuff. When I look at you, I don't see what a 
camera would see, do I? " 

"How can I tell?" 

" Well, if I should paint you, I could make 
you understand what I see." For the second time 
that day Hedger crimsoned unexpectedly, and his 
eyes fell and steadily contemplated a dish of little 
radishes. ' That particular picture I got from a 
story a Mexican priest told me; he said he found 
it in an old manuscript book in a monastery down 
there, written by some Spanish Missionary, who 
54 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



got his stories from the Aztecs. This one he 
called ' The Forty Lovers of the Queen,' and it 
was more or less about rain-making." 

" Aren't you going to tell it to me?" Eden 
asked. 

Hedger fumbled among the radishes. " I 
don't know if it's the proper kind of story to tell 
a girl." 

She smiled ; " Oh, forget about that ! I've 
been balloon riding today. I like to hear you 
talk." 

Her low voice was flattering. She had seemed 
like clay in his hands ever since they got on the 
boat to come home. He leaned back in his chair, 
forgot his food, and, looking at her intently, be- 
gan to tell his story, the theme of which he some- 
how felt was dangerous tonight. 

The tale began, he said, somewhere in Ancient 
Mexico, and concerned the daughter of a king. 
The birth of this Princess was preceded by un- 
usual portents. Three times her mother dreamed 
that she was delivered of serpents, which betok- 
ened that the child she carried would have power 
with the rain gods. The serpent was the symbol 
of water. The Princess grew up dedicated to the 
gods, and wise men taught her the rain-making 
mysteries. She was with difficulty restrained 
from men and was guarded at all times, for it was 
the law of the Thunder that she be maiden until 

55 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

her marriage. In the years of her adolescence, 
rain was abundant with her people. The oldest 
man could not remember such fertility. When 
the Princess had counted eighteen summers, her 
father went to drive out a war party that harried 
his borders on the north and troubled his pros- 
perity. The King destroyed the invaders and 
brought home many prisoners. Among the pris- 
oners was, a young chief, taller than any of his 
captors, of such strength and ferocity that the 
King's people came a day's journey to look at him. 
When the Princess beheld his great stature, and 
saw that his arms and breast were covered with 
the figures of wild animals, bitten into the skin 
and coloured, she begged his life from her father. 
She desired that he should practise his art upon 
her, and prick upon her skin the signs of Rain and 
Lightning and Thunder, and stain the wounds 
with herb-juices, as they were upon his own body. 
For many days, upon the roof of the King's house, 
the Princess submitted herself to the bone needle, 
and the women with her marvelled at her forti- 
tude. But the Princess was without shame before 
the Captive, and it came about that he threw from 
him his needles and his stains, and fell upon the 
Princess to violate her honour; and her women 
ran down from the roof screaming, to call the 
guard which stood at the gateway of the King's 
house, and none stayed to protect their mistress. 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



When the guard came, the Captive was thrown 
into bonds, and he was gelded, and his tongue was 
torn out, and he was given for a slave to the Rain 
Princess. 

The country of the Aztecs to the east was tor- 
mented by thirst, and their king, hearing much 
of the rain-making arts of the Princess, sent an 
embassy to her father, with presents and an offer 
of marriage. So the Princess went from her fa- 
ther to be the Queen of the Aztecs, and she took 
with her the Captive, who served her in every- 
thing with entire fidelity and slept upon a mat 
before her door. 

The King gave his bride a fortress on the out- 
skirts of the city, whither she retired to entreat 
the rain gods. This fortress was called the 
Queen's House, and on the night of the new moon 
the Queen came to it from the palace. But when 
the moon waxed and grew toward the round, be- 
cause the god of Thunder had had his will of 
her, then the Queen returned to the King. 
Drouth abated in the country and rain fell 
abundantly by reason of the Queen's power with 
the stars. 

When the Queen went to her own house she 
took with her no servant but the Captive, and he 
slept outside her door and brought her food after 
she had fasted. The Queen had a jewel of great 
value, a turquoise that had fallen from the sun, 
57 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

and had the image of the sun upon it. And when 
she desired a young man whom she had seen in 
the army or among the slaves, she sent the Cap- 
tive to him with the jewel, for a sign that he 
should come to her secretly at the Queen's House 
upon business concerning the welfare of all. And 
some, after she had talked with them, she sent 
away with rewards; and some she took into her 
chamber and kept them by her for one night or 
two. Afterward she called the Captive and bade 
him conduct the youth by the secret way he had 
come, underneath the chambers of the fortress. 
But for the going away of the Queen's lovers the 
Captive took out the bar that was beneath a stone 
in the floor of the passage, and put in its stead a 
rush-reed, and the youth stepped upon it and fell 
through into a cavern that was the bed of an un- 
derground river, and whatever was thrown into 
it was not seen again. In this service nor in any 
other did the Captive fail the Queen. 

But when the Queen sent for the Captain of 
the Archers, she detained him four days in her 
chamber, calling often for food and wine, and 
was greatly content with him. On the fourth day 
she went to the Captive outside her door and said : 
* Tomorrow take this man up by the sure way, by 
which the King comes, and let him live." 

In the Queen's door were arrows, purple and 
white. When she desired the King to come to her 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



publicly, with his guard, she sent him a white 
arrow; but when she sent the purple, he came 
secretly, and covered himself with his mantle to 
be hidden from the stone gods at the gate. On 
the fifth night that the Queen was with her lover, 
the Captive took a purple arrow to the King, and 
the King came secretly and found them together. 
He killed the Captain with his own hand, but the 
Queen he brought to public trial. The Captive, 
when he was put to the question, told on his fin- 
gers forty men that he had let through the under- 
ground passage into the river. The Captive and 
the Queen were put to death by fire, both on the 
same day, and afterward there was scarcity of 
rain. 

Eden Bower sat shivering a little as she lis- 
tened. Hedger was not trying to please her, 
she thought, but to antagonize and frighten her 
by his brutal story. She had often told herself 
that his lean, big-boned lower jaw was like his 
bull-dog's, but tonight his face made Caesar's most 
savage and determined expression seem an affecta- 
tion. Now she was looking at the man he really 
was. Nobody's eyes had ever defied her like this. 
They were searching her and seeing everything; 
all she had concealed from Livingston, and from 
the millionaire and his friends, and from the news- 
paper men. He was testing her, trying her out, 

59 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

and she was more ill at ease than she wished to 
show. 

" That's quite a thrilling story," she said at 
last, rising and winding her scarf about her throat. 
" It must be getting late. Almost every one has 
gone." 

They walked down the Avenue like people who 
have quarrelled, or who wish to get rid of each 
other. Hedger did not take her arm at the street 
crossings, and they did not linger in the Square. 
At her door he tried none of the old devices of 
the Livingston boys. He stood like a post, hav- 
ing forgotten to take off his hat, gave her a harsh, 
threatening glance, muttered " goodnight," and 
shut his own door noisily. 

There was no question of sleep for Eden 
Bower. Her brain was working like a machine 
that would never stop. After she undressed, she 
tried to calm her nerves by smoking a cigarette, 
lying on the divan by the open window. But she 
grew wider and wider awake, combating the chal- 
lenge that had flamed all evening in Hedger's 
eyes. The balloon had been one kind of ex- 
citement, the wine another; but the thing that 
had roused her, as a blow rouses a proud man, 
was the doubt, the contempt, the sneering hostility 
with which the painter had looked at her when 
he told his savage story. Crowds and balloons 
were all very well, she reflected, but woman's 
60 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



chief adventure is man. With a mind over active 
and a sense of life over strong, she wanted to 
walk across the roofs in the starlight, to sail over 
the sea and face at once a world of which she had 
never been afraid. 

Hedger must be asleep; his dog had stopped 
sniffing under the double doors. Eden put on 
her wrapper and slippers and stole softly down 
the hall over the old carpet; one loose board 
creaked just as she reached the ladder. The trap- 
door was open, as always on hot nights. When 
she stepped out on the roof she drew a long breath 
and walked across it, looking up at the sky. 
Her foot touched something soft; she heard a low 
growl, and on the instant Caesar's sharp little 
teeth caught her ankle and waited. His breath 
was like steam on her leg. Nobody had ever in- 
truded upon his roof before, and he panted for 
the movement or the word that would let him 
spring his jaw. Instead, Hedger's hand seized 
his throat. 

" Wait a minute. I'll settle with him," he said 
grimly. He dragged the dog toward the man- 
hole and disappeared. When he came back, he 
found Eden standing over by the dark chimney, 
looking away in an offended attitude. 

" I caned him unmercifully," he panted. " Of 
course you didn't hear anything; he never whines 
when I beat him. He didn't nip you, did he? " 
61 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

" I don't know whether he broke the skin or 
not," she answered aggrievedly, still looking off 
into the west. 

" If I were one of your friends in white pants, 
I'd strike a match to find whether you were hurt, 
though I know you are not, and then I'd see your 
ankle, wouldn't I?" 

" I suppose so." 

He shook his head and stood with his hands 
in the pockets of his old painting jacket. " I'm 
not up to such boy-tricks. If you want the place 
to yourself, I'll clear out. There are plenty of 
places where I can spend the night, what's left of 
it. But if you stay here and I stay here " He 
shrugged his shoulders. 

Eden did not stir, and she made no reply. Her 
head drooped slightly, as if she were considering. 
But the moment he put his arms about her they 
began to talk, both at once, as people do in an 
opera. The instant avowal brought out a flood 
of trivial admissions. Hedger confessed his 
crime, was reproached and forgiven, and now 
Eden knew what it was in his look that she had 
found so disturbing of late. 

Standing against the black chimney, with the 
sky behind and blue shadows before, they looked 
like one of Hedger's own paintings of that period; 
two figures, one white and one dark, and nothing 
whatever distinguishable about them but that they 
62 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



were male and female. The faces were lost, the 
contours blurred in shadow, but the figures were 
a man and a woman, and that was their whole 
concern and their mysterious beauty, it was the 
rhythm in which they moved, at last, along the 
roof and down into the dark hole; he first, draw- 
ing her gently after him. She came down very 
slowly. The excitement and bravado and uncer- 
tainty of that long day and night seemed all at 
once to tell upon her. When his feet were on the 
carpet and he reached up to lift her down, she 
twined her arms about his neck as after a long 
separation, and turned her face to him, and her 
lips, with their perfume of youth and passion. 

One Saturday afternoon Hedger was sitting in 
the window of Eden's music room. They had 
been watching the pigeons come wheeling over the 
roofs from their unknown feeding grounds. 

" Why," said Eden suddenly, " don't we fix 
those big doors into your studio so they will open? 
Then, if I want you, I won't have to go through 
the hall. That illustrator is loafing about a good 
deal of late." 

u I'll open them, if you wish. The bolt is on 
your side." 

" Isn't there one on yours, too? " 

u No. I believe a man lived there for years 
before I came in, and the nurse used to have 

-6 3 - 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

these rooms herself. Naturally, the lock was on 
the lady's side." 

Eden laughed and began to examine the bolt. 
" It's all stuck up with paint." Looking about, 
her eye lighted upon a bronze Buddah which was 
one of the nurse's treasures. Taking him by his 
head, she struck the bolt a blow with his squatting 
posteriors. The two doors creaked, sagged, and 
swung weakly inward a little way, as if they were 
too old for such escapades. Eden tossed the 
heavy idol into a stuffed chair. " That's bet- 
ter," she exclaimed exultantly. " So the bolts are 
always on the lady's side? What a lot society 
takes for granted ! " 

Hedger laughed, sprang up and caught her 
arms roughly. '* Whoever takes you for 
granted Did anybody, ever?" 

" Everybody does. That's why I'm here. 
You are the only one who knows anything about 
me. Now I'll have to dress if we're going out 
for dinner." 

He lingered, keeping his hold on her. l ' But 
I won't always be the only one, Eden Bower. I 
won't be the last." 

" No, I suppose not," she said carelessly. 
" But what does that matter? You are the first." 

As a long, despairing whine broke in the warm 
stillness, they drew apart. Caesar, lying on his 
bed in the dark corner, had lifted his head at this 

6 4 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



invasion of sunlight, and realized that the side of 
his room was broken open, and his whole world 
shattered by change. There stood his master and 
this woman, laughing at him! The woman was 
pulling the long black hair of this mightiest of 
men, who bowed his head and permitted it. 

VI 

In time they quarrelled, of course, and about 
an abstraction, as young people often do, as 
mature people almost never do. Eden came in 
late one afternoon. She had been with some of 
her musical friends to lunch at Burton Ives' studio, 
and she began telling Hedger about its splen- 
dours. He listened a moment and then threw 
down his brushes. " I know exactly what it's 
like," he said impatiently. " A very good depart- 
ment-store conception of a studio. It's one of the 
show places." 

" Well, it's gorgeous, and he said I could bring 
you to see him. The boys tell me he's awfully 
kind about giving people a lift, and you might get 
something out of it." 

Hedger started up and pushed his canvas out 
of the way. " What could I possibly get from 
Burton Ives? He's almost the worst painter in 
the world; the stupidest, I mean." 

Eden was annoyed. Burton Ives had been very 
-6 5 - 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

nice to her and had begged her to sit for him. 
" You must admit that he's a very successful one," 
she said coldly. 

" Of course he is ! Anybody can be successful 
who will do that sort of thing. I wouldn't paint 
his pictures for all the money in New York." 

" Well, I saw a lot of them, and I think they 
are beautiful." 

Hedger bowed stiffly. 

" What's the use of being a great painter if 
nobody knows about you?" Eden went on per- 
suasively. " Why don't you paint the kind of 
pictures people can understand, and then, after 
you're successful, do whatever you like? " 

" As I look at it," said Hedger brusquely, " I 
am successful." 

Eden glanced about. " Well, I don't see any 
evidences of it," she said, biting her lip. " He 
has a Japanese servant and a wine cellar, and 
keeps a riding horse." 

Hedger melted a little. " My dear, I have the 
most expensive luxury in the world, and I am 
much more extravagant than Burton Ives, for I 
work to please nobody but myself." 

" You mean you could make money and don't ? 
That you don't try to get a public? " 

" Exactly. A public only wants what has been 
done over and over. I'm painting for painters, 
who haven't been born." 
66 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



" What would you do if I brought Mr. Ives 
down here to see your things? " 

" Well, for God's sake, don't! Before he left 
I'd probably tell him what I thought of him." 

Eden rose. u I give you up. You know very 
well there's only one kind of success that's real." 

" Yes, but it's not the kind you mean. So 
you've been thinking me a scrub painter, who needs 
a helping hand from some fashionable studio 
man? What the devil have you had anything to 
do with me for, then? " 

" There's no use talking to you," said Eden 
walking slowly toward the door. " I've been try- 
ing to pull wires for you all afternoon, and this 
is what it comes to." She had expected that the 
tidings of a prospective call from the great man 
would be received very differently, and had been 
thinking as she came home in the stage how, as 
with a magic wand, she might gild Hedger's fu- 
ture, float him out of his dark hole on a tide of 
prosperity, see his name in the papers and his pic- 
tures in the windows on Fifth Avenue. 

Hedger mechanically snapped the midsummer 
leash on Caesar's collar and they ran downstairs 
and hurried through Sullivan Street off toward the 
river. He wanted to be among rough, honest 
people, to get down where the big drays bumped 
over stone paving blocks and the men wore cord- 
uroy trowsers and kept their shirts open at the 

-6 7 - 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

neck. He stopped for a drink in one of the sag- 
ging bar-rooms on the water front. He had 
never in his life been so deeply wounded; he did 
not know he could be so hurt. He had told this 
girl all his secrets. On the roof, in these warm, 
heavy summer nights, with her hands locked in 
his, he had been able to explain all his misty ideas 
about an unborn art the world was waiting for; 
had been able to explain them better than he had 
ever done to himself. And she had looked away 
to the chattels of this uptown studio and coveted 
them for him ! To her he was only an unsuccess- 
ful Burton Ives. 

Then why, as he had put it to her, did she take 
up with him? Young, beautiful, talented as she 
was, why had she wasted herself on a scrub? 
Pity? Hardly; she wasn't sentimental. There 
was no explaining her. But in this passion that 
had seemed so fearless and so fated to be, his own 
position now looked to him ridiculous; a poor 
dauber without money or fame, it was her ca- 
price to load him with favours. Hedger ground 
his teeth so loud that his dog, trotting beside him, 
heard him and looked up. 

While they were having supper at the oyster- 
man's, he planned his escape. Whenever he saw 
her again, everything he had told her, that he 
should never have told any one, would come back 
to him; ideas he had never whispered even to 
68 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



the painter whom he worshipped and had gone 
all the way to France to see. To her they must 
seem his apology for not having horses and a 
valet, or merely the puerile boastfulness of a weak 
man. Yet if she slipped the bolt tonight and 
came through the doors and said, " Oh, weak 
man, I belong to you ! " what could he do? That 
was the danger. He would catch the train out 
to Long Beach tonight, and tomorrow he would 
go on to the north end of Long Island, where an 
old friend of his had a summer studio among the 
sand dunes. He would stay until things came 
right in his mind. And she could find a smart 
painter, or take her punishment. 

When he went home, Eden's room was dark; 
she was dining out somewhere. He threw his 
things into a hold-all he had carried about the 
world with him, strapped up some colours and 
canvases, and ran downstairs. 



VII 

Five days later Hedger was a restless passenger 
on a dirty, crowded Sunday train, coming back to 
town. Of course he saw now how unreasonable 
he had been in expecting a Huntington girl to 
know anything about pictures; here was a whole 
continent full of people who knew nothing about 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

pictures and he didn't hold it against them. 
What had such things to do with him and Eden 
Bower? When he lay out on the dunes, watch- 
ing the moon come up out of the sea, it had seemed 
to him that there was no wonder in the world like 
the wonder of Eden Bower. He was going back 
to her because she was older than art, because she 
was the most overwhelming thing that had ever 
come into his life. 

He had written her yesterday, begging her to 
be at home this evening, telling her that he was 
contrite, and wretched enough. 

Now that he was on his way to her, his stronger 
feeling unaccountably changed to a mood that was 
playful and tender. He wanted to share every- 
thing with her, even the most trivial things. He 
wanted to tell her about the people on the 
train, coming back tired from their holiday with 
bunches of wilted flowers and dirty daisies; to tell 
her that the fish-man, to whom she had often sent 
him for lobsters, was among the passengers, dis- 
guised in a silk shirt and a spotted tie, and how his 
wife looked exactly like a fish, even to her eyes, 
on which cataracts were forming. He could tell 
her, too, that he hadn't as much as unstrapped his 
canvases, that ought to convince her. 

In those days passengers from Long Island 
came into New York by ferry. Hedger had to 
be quick about getting his dog out of the express 
70 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



car in order to catch the first boat. The East 
River, and the bridges, and the city to the west, 
were burning in the conflagration of the sunset; 
there was that great home-coming reach of even- 
ing in the air. 

The car changes from Thirty-fourth Street 
were too many and too perplexing; for the first 
time in his life Hedger took a hansom cab for 
Washington Square. Caesar sat bolt upright on 
the worn leather cushion beside him, and they 
jogged off, looking down on the rest of the world. 

It was twilight when they drove down lower 
Fifth Avenue into the Square, and through the 
Arch behind them were the two long rows of 
pale violet lights that used to bloom so beautifully 
against the grey stone and asphalt. Here and 
yonder about the Square hung globes that shed a 
radiance not unlike the blue mists of evening, 
emerging softly when daylight died, as the stars 
emerged in the thin blue sky. Under them the 
sharp shadows of the trees fell on the cracked 
pavement and the sleeping grass. The first stars 
and the first lights were growing silver against the 
gradual darkening, when Hedger paid his driver 
and went into the house, which, thank God, was 
still there! On the hall table lay his letter of 
yesterday, unopened. 

He went upstairs with every sort of fear and 
every sort of hope clutching at his heart; it was 
71 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

as if tigers were tearing him. Why was there no 
gas burning in the top hall? He found matches 
and the gas bracket. He knocked, but got no an- 
swer; nobody was there. Before his own door 
were exactly five bottles of milk, standing in a 
row. The milk-boy had taken spiteful pleasure 
in thus reminding him that he forgot to stop his 
order. 

Hedger went down to the basement; it, too, was 
dark. The janitress was taking her evening air- 
ing on the basement steps. She sat waving a 
palm-leaf fan majestically, her dirty calico dress 
open at the neck. She told him at once that there 
had been " changes." Miss Bower's room was to 
let again, and the piano would go tomorrow. 
Yes, she left yesterday, she sailed for Europe 
with friends from Chicago. They arrived on 
Friday, heralded by many telegrams. Very rich 
people they were said to be, though the man had 
refused to pay the nurse a month's rent in lieu 
of notice, which would have been only right, as 
the young lady had agreed to take the rooms until 
October. Mrs. Foley had observed, too, that 
he didn't overpay her or Willy for their trouble, 
and a great deal of trouble they had been put to, 
certainly. Yes, the young lady was very pleas- 
ant, but the nurse said there were rings on the 
mahogany table where she had put tumblers and 
wine glasses. It was just as well she was gone. 
72 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



The Chicago man was uppish in his ways, but not 
much to look at. She supposed he had poor 
health, for there was nothing to him inside his 
clothes. 

Hedger went slowly up the stairs never had 
they seemed so long, or his legs so heavy. The 
upper floor was emptiness and silence. He un- 
locked his room, lit the gas, and opened the win- 
dows. When he went to put his coat in the 
closet, he found, hanging among his clothes, a pale, 
flesh-tinted dressing gown he had liked to see her 
wear, with a perfume oh, a perfume that was 
still Eden Bower ! He shut the door behind him 
and there, in the dark, for a moment he lost his 
manliness. It was when he held this garment to 
him that he found a letter in the pocket. 

The note was written with a lead pencil, in 
haste : She was sorry that he was angry, but she 
still didn't know just what she had done. She 
had thought Mr. Ives would be useful to him; she 
guessed he was too proud. She wanted awfully 
to see him again, but Fate came knocking at her 
door after he had left her. She believed in Fate. 
She would never forget him, and she knew he 
would become the greatest painter in the world. 
Now she must pack. She hoped he wouldn't mind 
her leaving the dressing gown; somehow, she 
could never wear it again. 

After Hedger read this, standing under the gas, 
73 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

he went back into the closet and knelt down before 
the wall; the knot hole had been plugged up with 
a ball of wet paper, the same blue note-paper on 
which her letter was written. 

He was hard hit. Tonight he had to bear the 
loneliness of a whole lifetime. Knowing himself 
so well, he could hardly believe that such a thing 
had ever happened to him, that such a woman had 
lain happy and contented in his arms. And now 
it was over. He turned out the light and sat 
down on his painter's stool before the big window. 
Caesar, on the floor beside him, rested his head on 
his master's knee. W& must leave Hedger thus, 
sitting in his tank with his dog, looking up at the 
stars. 

COMING, APHRODITE ! This legend, in electric 
lights over the Lexington Opera House, had long 
announced the return of Eden Bower to New 
York after years of spectacular success in Paris. 
She came at last, under the management of an 
American Opera Company, but bringing her own 
chef d'orchestre. 

One bright December afternoon Eden Bower 
was going down Fifth Avenue in her car, on the 
way to her broker, in Williams Street. Her 
thoughts were entirely upon stocks, Cerro de 
Pasco, and how much she should buy of it, when 
she suddenly looked up and realized that she was 
74 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



skirting Washington Square. She had not seen 
the place since she rolled out of it in an old-fash- 
ioned four-wheeler to seek her fortune, eighteen 
years ago. 

" Arretez, Alphonse. Attendez moi," she 
called, and opened the door before he could reach 
it. The children who were streaking over the 
asphalt on roller skates saw a lady in a long fur 
coat, and short, high-heeled shoes, alight from a 
French car and pace slowly about the Square, 
holding her muff to her chin. This spot, at least, 
had changed very little, she reflected; the same 
trees, the same fountain, the white arch, and over 
yonder, Garibaldi, drawing the sword for free- 
dom. There, just opposite her, was the old red 
brick house. 

" Yes, that is the place," she was thinking. " I 
can smell the carpets now, and the dog, what 
was his name ? That grubby bathroom at the end 
of 'the hall, and that dreadful Hedger still, 
there was something about him, you know " 
She glanced up and blinked against the sun. 
From somewhere in the crowded quarter south of 
the Square a flock of pigeons rose, wheeling 
quickly upward into the brilliant blue sky. She 
threw back her head, pressed her muff closer to 
her chin, and watched them with a smile of amaze- 
ment and delight. So they still rose, out of all 
that dirt and noise and squalor, fleet and silvery, 
75 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

just as they used to rise that summer when she 
was twenty and went up in a balloon on Coney 
Island ! 

Alphonse opened the door and tucked her robes 
about her. All the way down town her mind 
wandered from Cerro de Pasco, and she kept 
smiling and looking up at the sky. 

When she had finished her business with the 
broker, she asked him to look in the telephone 
book for the address of M. Gaston Jules, the pic- 
ture dealer, and slipped the paper on which he 
wrote it into her glove. It was five o'clock when 
she reached the French Galleries, as they were 
called. On entering she gave the attendant her 
card, asking him to take it to M. Jules. The 
dealer appeared very promptly and begged her to 
come into his private office, where he pushed a 
great chair toward his desk for her and signalled 
his secretary to leave the room. 

" How good your lighting is in here/' she ob- 
served, glancing about. " I met you at Simon's 
studio, didn't I? Oh, no! I never forget any- 
body who interests me." She threw her muff on 
his writing table and sank into the deep chair. 
" I have come to you for some information that's 
not in my line. Do you know anything about an 
American painter named Hedger? " 

He took the seat opposite her. " Don 
Hedger? But, certainly! There are some very 

- 7 6- 



Coming, Aphrodite! 



interesting things of his in an exhibition at 
V 's. If you would care to " 

She held up her hand. " No, no. I've no time 
to go to exhibitions. Is he a man of any im- 
portance? " 

" Certainly. He is one of the first men among 
the motiw-:. That is to say, among the very 
moderns. He is always coming up with some- 
thing different. He often exhibits in Paris, you 
must have seen " 

" No, I tell you I don't go to exhibitions. Has 
he had great success? That is what I want to 
know." 

M. Jules pulled at his short grey moustache. 
" But, Madame, there are many kinds of suc- 
cess," he began cautiously. 

Madame gave a dry laugh. * Yes, so he used 
to say. We once quarrelled on that issue. And 
how would you define his particular kind? " 

M. Jules grew thoughtful. " He is a great 
name with all the young men, and he is decidedly 
an influence in art. But one can't definitely place 
a man who is original, erratic, and who is changing 
all the time." 

She cut him short. " Is he much talked about 
at home? In Paris, I mean? Thanks. That's 
all I want to know." She rose and began button- 
ing her coat. " One doesn't like to have been an 
utter fool, even at twenty." 

77 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

"Mais, non! " M. Jules handed her her muff 
with a quick, sympathetic glance. He followed 
her out through the carpeted show-room, now 
closed to the public and draped in cheesecloth, and 
put her into her car with words appreciative of 
the honour she had done him in calling. 

Leaning back in the cushions, Eden Bower 
closed her eyes, and her face, as the street lamps 
flashed their ugly orange light upon it, became 
hard and settled, like a plaster cast; so a sail, that 
has been filled by a strong breeze, behaves when 
the wind suddenly dies. Tomorrow night the 
wind would blow again, and this mask would be 
the golden face of Aphrodite. But a u big " ca- 
reer takes its toll, even with the best of luck. 



78 



The Diamond Mine 
i 

I FIRST became aware that Cressida Garnet 
was on board when I saw young men with 
cameras going up to the boat deck. In that 
exposed spot she was good-naturedly posing for 
them amid fluttering lavender scarfs wear- 
ing a most unseaworthy hat, her broad, vigorous 
face wreathed in smiles. She was too much an 
American not to believe in publicity. All ad- 
vertising was good. If it was good for breakfast 
foods, it was good for prime donne, especially 
for a prima donna who would never be any 
younger and who had just announced her intention 
of marrying a fourth time. 

Only a few days before, when I was lunching 
with some friends at Sherry's, I had seen Jerome 
Brown come in with several younger men, looking 
so pleased and prosperous that I exclaimed upon 
it. 

" His affairs," some one explained, " are look- 
ing up. He's going to marry Cressida Garnet. 
Nobody believed it at first, but since she confirms 
79 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

it he's getting all sorts of credit. That woman's 
a diamond mine." 

If there was ever a man who needed a diamond 
mine at hand, immediately convenient, it was 
Jerome Brown. But as an old friend of Cressida 
Garnet, I was sorry to hear that mining opera- 
tions were to be begun again. 

I had been away from New York and had not 
seen Cressida for a year; now I paused on the 
gangplank to note how very like herself she still 
was, and with what undiminished zeal she went 
about even the most trifling things that pertained 
to her profession. From that distance I could 
recognize her " carrying " smile, and even what, 
in Columbus, we used to call " the Garnet look." 

At the foot of the stairway leading up to the 
boat deck stood two of the factors in Cressida's 
destiny. One of them was her sister, Miss Julia; 
a woman of fifty with a relaxed, mournful face, 
an ageing skin that browned slowly, like meer- 
chaum, and the unmistakable " look " by which 
one knew a Garnet. Beside her, pointedly ignor- 
ing her, smoking a cigarette while he ran over the 
passenger list with supercilious almond eyes, stood 
a youth in a pink shirt and a green plush hat, hold- 
ing a French bull-dog on the leash. This was 
" Horace," Cressida's only son. He, at any rate, 
had not the Garnet look. He was rich and 
ruddy, indolent and insolent, with soft oval cheeks 
801 



The Diamond Mine 



and the blooming complexion of twenty-two. 
There was the beginning of a silky shadow oniiis 
upper lip. He seemed like a ripe fruit grown 
out of a rich soil; " oriental," his mother called 
his peculiar lusciousness. His aunt's restless and 
aggrieved glance kept flecking him from the side, 
but the two were as motionless as the bouledogue, 
standing there on his bench legs and surveying 
his travelling basket with loathing. They were 
waiting, in constrained immobility, for Cressida to 
descend and reanimate them, will them to do 
or to be something. Forward, by the rail, I saw 
the stooped, eager back for which I was uncon- 
sciously looking: Miletus Poppas, the Greek Jew, 
Cressida's accompanist and shadow. We were 
all there, I thought with a smile, except Jerome 
Brown. 

The first member of Cressida's party with 
whom I had speech was Mr. Poppas. When we 
were two hours out I came upon him in the act of 
dropping overboard a steamer cushion made of 
American flags. Cressida never sailed, I think, 
that one of these vivid comforts of travel did not 
reach her at the dock. Poppas recognized me 
just as the striped object left his hand. He was 
standing with his arm still extended over the rail, 
his fingers contemptuously sprung back. u Lest 
we forgedt ! " he said with a shrug. " Does 
Madame Cressida know we are to have the pleas- 
81 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

ure of your company for this voyage?" He 
spoke deliberate, grammatical English he de- 
spised the American rendering of the language 
but there was an indescribably foreign quality in 
his voice, a something muted; and though he 
aspirated his u th's " with such conscientious 
thoroughness, there was always the thud of a 
" d " in them. Poppas stood before me in a 
short, tightly buttoned grey coat and cap, exactly 
the colour of his greyish skin and hair and waxed 
moustache ; a monocle on a very wide black ribbon 
dangled over his chest. As to his age, I could 
not offer a conjecture. In the twelve years I had 
known his thin lupine face behind Cressida's 
shoulder, it had not changed. I was used to his 
cold, supercilious manner, to his alarming, deep- 
set eyes, very close together, in colour a yellow- 
ish green, and always gleaming with something 
like defeated fury, as if he were actually on the 
point of having it out with you, or with the world, 
at last. 

I asked him if Cressida had engagements in 
London. 

" Quite so; the Manchester Festival, some con- 
certs at Queen's Hall, and the Opera at Covent 
Garden; a rather special production of the operas 
of Mozart. That she can still do quite well, 
which is not at all, of course, what we might have 
expected, and only goes to show that our Madame 
82 



The Diamond Mine 



Cressida is now, as always, a charming exception 
to rules. " Poppas' tone about his client was con- 
sistently patronizing, and he was always trying 
to draw one into a conspiracy of two, based on a 
mutual understanding of her shortcomings. 

I approached him on the one subject I could 
think of which was more personal than his use- 
fulness to Cressida, and asked him whether he 
still suffered from facial neuralgia as much as he 
had done in former years, and whether he was 
therefore dreading London, where the climate 
used to be so bad for him. 

" And is still," he caught me up, u And is still! 
For me to go to London is martyrdom, chere 
Madame. In New York it is bad enough, but in 
London it is the auto da fe, nothing less. My 
nervous system is exotic in any country washed by 
the Atlantic ocean, and it shivers like a little hair- 
less dog from Mexico. It never relaxes. I 
think I have told you about my favourite city in 
the middle of Asia, la sainte Asie y where the rain- 
fall is absolutely nil, and you are protected on 
every side by hundreds of metres of warm, dry 
sand. I was there when I was a child once, and 
it is still my intention to retire there when I have 
finished with all this. I would be there now, 
n-ow-ow," his voice rose querulously, " if Madame 
Cressida did not imagine that she needs me, and 
her fancies, you know," he flourished his hands, 

-8 3 -. 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

" one gives in to them. In humouring her ca- 
prices you and I have already played some to- 
gether." 

We were approaching Cressida's deck chairs, 
ranged under the open windows of her stateroom. 
She was already recumbent, swathed in lavender 
scarfs and wearing purple orchids doubtless 
from Jerome Brown. At her left, Horace had 
settled down to a French novel, and Julia Garnet, 
at her right, was complainingly regarding the grey 
horizon. On seeing me, Cressida struggled un- 
der her fur-lined robes and got to her feet, 
which was more than Horace or Miss Julia man- 
aged to do. Miss Julia, as I could have fore- 
told, was not pleased. All the Garnets had an 
awkward manner with me. Whether it was that 
I reminded them of things they wished to forget, 
or whether they thought I esteemed Cressida too 
highly and the rest of them too lightly, I do not 
know; but my appearance upon their scene always 
put them greatly on their dignity. After Horace 
had offered me his chair and Miss Julia had said 
doubtfully that she thought I was looking rather 
better than when she last saw me, Cressida took 
my arm and walked me off toward the stern. 

" Do you know, Carrie, I half wondered 
whether I shouldn't find you here, or in London, 
because you always turn up at critical moments 
in my life." She pressed my arm confidentially, 

84 



The Diamond Mine 



and I felt that she was once more wrought up to 
a new purpose. I told her that I had heard some 
rumour of her engagement. 

" It's quite true, and it's all that it should be," 
she reassured me. " I'll tell you about it later, 
and you'll see that it's a real solution. They are 
against me, of course, all except Horace. He 
has been such a comfort." 

Horace's support, such as it was, could always 
be had in exchange for his mother's signature, I 
suspected. The pale May day had turned bleak 
and chilly, and we sat down by an open hatchway 
which emitted warm air from somewhere below. 
At this close range I studied Cressida's face, and 
felt reassured of her unabated vitality; the old 
force of will was still there, and with it her char- 
acteristic optimism, the old hope of a " solution." 

" You have been in Columbus lately? " she was 
saying. " No, you needn't tell me about it," with 
a sigh. " Why is it, Caroline, that there is so lit- 
tle of my life I would be willing to live over again ? 
So little that I can even think of without depres- 
sion. Yet I've really not such a bad conscience. 
It may mean that I still belong to the future more 
than to the past, do you think? " 

My assent was not warm enough to fix her atten- 
tion, and she went on thoughtfully: " Of course, 
it was a bleak country and a bleak period. But 
I've sometimes wondered whether the bleakness 

85 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

may not have been in me, too; for it has certainly 
followed me. There, that is no way to talk ! " 
she drew herself up from a momentary attitude of 
dejection. " Sea air always lets me down at first. 
That's why it's so good for me in the end." 

" I think Julia always lets you down, too," 
I said bluntly. " But perhaps that depression 
works out in the same way." 

Cressida laughed. " Julia is rather more de- 
pressing than Georgie, isn't she? But it was 
Julia's turn. I can't come alone, and they've 
grown to expect it. They haven't, either of them, 
much else to expect." 

At this point the deck steward approached us 
with a blue envelope. " A wireless for you, Ma- 
dame Garnet." 

Cressida put out her hand with impatience, 
thanked him graciously, and with every indication 
of pleasure tore open the blue envelope. " It's 
from Jerome Brown," she said with some con- 
fusion, as she folded the paper small and tucked 
it between the buttons of her close-fitting gown, 
" Something he forgot to tell me. How long 
shall you be in London? Good; I want you to 
meet him. We shall probably be married there 
as soon as my engagements are over." She rose. 
" Now I must write some letters. Keep two 
places at your table, so that I can slip away from 
my party and dine with you sometimes." 
86 



The Diamond Mine 



I walked with her toward her chair, in which 
Mr. Poppas was now reclining. He indicated his 
readiness to rise, but she shook her head and en- 
tered the door of her deck suite. As she passed 
him, his eye went over her with assurance until it 
rested upon the folded bit of blue paper in her 
corsage. He must have seen the original rec- 
tangle in the steward's hand; having found it 
again, he dropped back between Horace and Miss 
Julia, whom I think he disliked no more than he 
did the rest of the world. He liked Julia quite 
as well as he liked me, and he liked me quite as 
well as he liked any of the women to whom he 
would be fitfully agreeable upon the voyage. 
Once or twice, during each crossing, he did his 
best and made himself very charming indeed, to 
keep his hand in, for the same reason that he 
kept a dummy keyboard in his stateroom, some- 
where down in the bowels of the boat. He prac- 
tised all the small economies; paid the minimum 
rate, and never took a deck chair, because, as 
Horace was usually in the cardroom, he could sit 
in Horace's. 

The three of them lay staring at the swell which 
was steadily growing heavier. Both men had 
covered themselves with rugs, after dutifully 
bundling up Miss Julia. As I walked back and 
forth on the deck, I was struck by their various 
degrees of in-expressiveness. Opaque brown 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

eyes, almond-shaped and only half open; wolfish 
green eyes, close-set and always doing something, 
with a crooked gleam boring in this direction or 
in that; watery grey eyes, like the thick edges of 
broken skylight glass: I would have given a 
great deal to know what was going on behind each 
pair of them. 

These three were sitting there in a row because 
they were all woven into the pattern of one large 
and rather splendid life. Each had a bond, and 
each had a grievance. If they could have their 
will, what would they do with the generous, cred- 
ulous creature who nourished them, I wondered? 
How deep a humiliation would each egotism ex- 
act? They would scarcely have harmed her in 
fortune or in person (though I think Miss Julia 
looked forward to the day when Cressida would 
" break " and could be mourned over), but the 
fire at which she warmed herself, the little secret 
hope, the illusion, ridiculous or sublime, which 
kept her going, that they would have stamped 
out on the instant, with the whole Garnet pack 
behind them to make extinction sure. All, ex- 
cept, perhaps, Miletus Poppas. He was a vulture 
of the vulture race, and he had the beak of one. 
But I always felt that if ever he had her thus at 
his mercy, if ever he came upon the softness that 
was hidden under so much hardness, the warm 
credulity under a life so dated and scheduled and 
88 



The Diamond Mine 



" reported " and generally exposed, he would 
hold his hand and spare. 

The weather grew steadily rougher. Miss 
Julia at last plucked Poppas by the sleeve and in- 
dicated that she wished to be released from her 
wrappings. When she disappeared, there seemed 
to be every reason to hope that she might be off 
the scene for awhile. As Cressida said, if she 
had not brought Julia, she would have had to 
bring Georgie, or some other Garnet. Cressida's 
family was like that of the unpopular Prince of 
Wales, of whom, when he died, some wag wrote : 

// it had been his brother, 
Better him than another. 
If it had been his sister f 
No one would have jnissed her. 

Miss Julia was dampening enough, but Miss 
Georgie was aggressive and intrusive. She was 
out to prove to the world, and more especially 
to Ohio, that all the Garnets were as like Cres- 
sida as two peas. Both sisters were club-women, 
social service workers, and directors in musical so- 
cieties, and they were continually travelling up and 
down the Middle West to preside at meetings or 
to deliver addresses. They reminded one of two 
sombre, bumping electrics, rolling about with no 
visible means of locomotion, always running out of 
power and lying beached in some inconvenient spot 

89 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

until they received a check or a suggestion from 
Gressy. I was only too well acquainted with the 
strained, anxious expression that the sight of their 
handwriting brought to Cressida's face when she 
ran over her morning mail at breakfast. She 
usually put their letters by to read " when she was 
feeling up to it " and hastened to open others 
which might possibly contain something gracious 
or pleasant. Sometimes these family unburden- 
ings lay about unread for several days. Any 
other letters would have got themselves lost, but 
these bulky epistles, never properly fitted to their 
envelopes, seemed immune to mischance and un- 
failingly disgorged to Cressida long explanations 
as to why her sisters had to do and to have certain 
things precisely upon her account and because she 
was so much a public personage. 

The truth was that all the Garnets, and par- 
ticularly her two sisters, were consumed by an 
habitual, bilious, unenterprising envy of Cressy. 
They never forgot that, no matter what she did 
for them or how far she dragged them about the 
world with her, she would never take one of them 
to live with her in her Tenth Street house in New 
York. They thought that was the thing they 
most wanted. But what they wanted, in the last 
analysis, was to be Cressida. For twenty years 
she had been plunged in struggle ; fighting for her 
life at first, then for a beginning, for growth, and 
90 



The Diamond Mine 



at last for eminence and perfection; fighting in 
the dark, and afterward in the light, which, with 
her bad preparation, and with her uninspired 
youth already behind her, took even more courage. 
During those twenty years the Garnets had been 
comfortable and indolent and vastly self-satisfied; 
and now they expected Cressida to make them 
equal sharers in the finer rewards of her struggle. 
When her brother Buchanan told me he thought 
Cressida ought " to make herself one of them, 1 ' 
he stated the converse of what he meant. They 
coveted the qualities which had made her success, 
as well as the benefits which came from it. More 
than her furs or her fame or her fortune, they 
wanted her personal effectiveness, her brighter 
glow and stronger will to live. 

" Sometimes," I have heard Cressida say, look- 
ing up from a bunch of those sloppily written let- 
ters, " sometimes I get discouraged." 

For several days the rough weather kept Miss 
Julia cloistered in Cressida's deck suite with the 
maid, Luisa, who confided to me that the Signorina 
Garnet was " difcile." After dinner I usually 
found Cressida unincumbered, as Horace was al- 
ways in the cardroom and Mr. Poppas either 
nursed his neuralgia or went through the exercise 
of making himself interesting to some one of the 
young women on board. One evening, the third 
night out, when the sea was comparatively quiet 
91 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

and the sky was full of broken black clouds, 
silvered by the moon at their ragged edges, Cres- 
sida talked to me about Jerome Brown. 

I had known each of her former husbands. 
The first one, Charley Wilton, Horace's father, 
was my cousin. He was organist in a church in 
Columbus, and Cressida married him when she 
was nineteen. He died of tuberculosis two years 
after Horace was born. Cressida nursed him 
through a long illness and made the living besides. 
Her courage during the three years of her first 
marriage was fine enough to foreshadow her fu- 
ture to any discerning eye, and it had made me 
feel that she deserved any number of chances at 
marital happiness. There had, of course, been a 
particular reason for each subsequent experiment, 
and a sufficiently'alluring promise of success. Her 
motives, in the case of Jerome Brown, seemed to 
me more vague and less convincing than those 
which she had explained to me on former occa- 
sions. 

" It's nothing hasty," she assured me. " It's 
been coming on for several years. He has never 
pushed me, but he was always there some one 
to count on. Even when I used to meet him at 
the Whitings, while I was still singing at the 
Metropolitan, I always felt that he was different 
from the others; that if I were in straits of any 
kind, I could call on him. You can't know what 
92 



The Diamond Mine 



that feeling means to me, Carrie. If you look 
back, you'll see it's something I've never had." 

I admitted that, in so far as I knew, she had 
never been much addicted to leaning on people. 

" I've never had any one to lean on," she said 
with a short laugh. Then she went on, quite 
seriously: " Somehow, my relations with people 
always become business relations in the end. I 
suppose it's because, except for a sort of pro- 
fessional personality, which I've had to get, just 
as I've had to get so many other things, I've 
not very much that's personal to give people. 
I've had to give too much else. I've had to try 
too hard for people who wouldn't try at all." 

" Which," I put in firmly, u has done them no 
good, and has robbed the people who really cared 
about you." 

" By making me grubby, you mean? " 

" By making you anxious and distracted so much 
of the time; empty." 

She nodded mournfully. " Yes, I know. You 
used to warn me. Well, there's not one of my 
brothers and sisters who does not feel that I 
carried off the family success, just as I might have 
carried off the family silver, if there'd been 
any ! They take the view that there were just 
so many prizes in the bag; I reached in and took 
them, so there were none left for the others. At 
my age, that's a dismal truth to waken up to," 

93 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

Cressida reached for my hand and held it a mo- 
ment, as if she needed courage to face the facts 
in her case. " When one remembers one's first 
success; how one hoped to go home like a Christ- 
mas tree full of presents How much one 
learns in a life-time ! That year when Horace 
was a baby and Charley was dying, and I was tour- 
ing the West with the Williams band, it was my 
feeling about my own people that made me go at 
all. Why I didn't drop myself into one of those 
muddy rivers, or turn on the gas in one of those 
dirty hotel rooms, I don't know to this day. At 
twenty-two you must hope for something more 
than to be able to bury your husband decently, and 
what I hoped for was to make my family happy. 
It was the same afterward in Germany. A young 
woman must live for human people. Horace 
wasn't enough. I might have had lovers, of 
course. I suppose you will say it would have been 
better if I had." 

Though there seemed no need for me to say 
anything, I murmured that I thought there were 
more likely to be limits to the rapacity of a lover 
than to that of a discontented and envious family. 

" Well," Cressida gathered herself up, u once 
I got out from under it all, didn't I? And per- 
haps, in a milder way, such a release can come 
again. You were the first person I told when I 
ran away with Charley, and for a long -while you 
94 



The Diamond Mine 



were the only one who knew about Blasius Bouch- 
alka. That time, at least, I shook the Garnets. 
I wasn't distracted or empty. That time I was 
all there ! " 

" Yes," I echoed her, " that time you were all 
there. It's the greatest possible satisfaction to 
remember it." 

" But even that," she sighed, u was nothing but 
lawyers and accounts in the end and a hurt. 
A hurt that has lasted. I wonder what is the 
matter with me? " 

The matter with Cressida was, that more than 
any woman I have ever known, she appealed to the 
acquisitive instinct in men; but this was not easily 
said, even in the brutal frankness of a long friend- 
ship. 

We would probably have gone further into the 
Bouchalka chapter of her life, had not Horace ap- 
peared and nervously asked us if we did not wish 
to take a turn before we went inside. I pleaded 
indolence, but Cressida rose and disappeared with 
him. Later I came upon them, standing at the 
stern above the huddled steerage deck, which was 
by this time bathed in moonlight, under an almost 
clear sky. Down there on the silvery floor, little 
hillocks were scattered about under quilts and 
shawls; family units, presumably, male, female, 
and young. Here and there a black shawl sat 
alone, nodding. They crouched submissively un- 
95 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

der the moonlight as if it were a spell. In one of 
those hillocks a baby was crying, but the sound 
was faint and thin, a slender protest which aroused 
no response. Everything was so still that I could 
hear snatches of the low talk between my friends. 
Cressida's voice was deep and entreating. She 
was remonstrating with Horace about his losses 
at bridge, begging him to keep away from the 
cardroom. 

" But what else is there to do on a trip like 
this, my Lady? " he expostulated, tossing his 
spark of a cigarette-end overboard. " What is 
there, now, to do? " 

" Oh, Horace! " she murmured, " how can you 
be so? If I were twenty-two, and a boy, with 
some one to back me " 

Horace drew his shoulders together and but- 
toned his top-coat. " Oh, I've not your energy, 
Mother dear. We make no secret of that. I am 
as I am. I didn't ask to be born into this charm- 
ing world." 

To this gallant speech Cressida made no an- 
swer. She stood with her hand on the rail and 
her head bent forward, as if she had lost herself 
in thought. The ends of her scarf, lifted by the 
breeze, fluttered upward, almost transparent in 
the argent light. Presently she turned away, 
as if she had been alone and were leaving only the 
night sea behind her, and walked slowly for- 

- 9 6- 



The Diamond Mine 



ward; a strong, solitary figure on the white deck, 
the smoke-like scarf twisting and climbing and 
falling back upon itself in the light over her head. 
She reached the door of her stateroom and disap- 
peared. Yes, she was a Garnet, but she was also 
Cressida; and she had done what she had done. 



II 

My first recollections of Cressida Garnet have 
to do with the Columbus Public Schools; a little 
girl with sunny brown hair and eager bright eyes, 
looking anxiously at the teacher and reciting the 
names and dates of the Presidents: "James 
Buchanan, 1857-1861; Abraham Lincoln, 1861- 
1865 "; etc - Her family came from North Car- 
olina, and they had that to feel superior about 
before they had Cressy. The Garnet u look," 
indeed, though based upon a strong family re- 
semblance, was nothing more than the restless, 
preoccupied expression of an inflamed sense of 
importance. The father was a Democrat, in the 
sense that other men were doctors or lawyers. 
He scratched up some sort of poor living for his 
family behind office windows inscribed with the 
words " Real Estate. Insurance. Investments." 
But it was his political faith that, in a Republican 
community, gave him his feeling of eminence and 
97' 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

originality. The Garnet children were all in 
school then, scattered along from the first grade 
to the ninth. In almost any room of our school 
building you might chance to enter, you saw the 
self-conscious little face of one or another of them. 
They were restrained, uncomfortable children, not 
frankly boastful, but insinuating, and somehow 
forever demanding special consideration and hold- 
ing grudges against teachers and classmates who 
did not show it them; all but Cressida, who was 
naturally as sunny and open as a May morning. 
It was no wonder that Cressy ran away with 
young Charley Wilton, who hadn't a shabby thing 
about him except his health. He was her first 
music teacher, the choir-master of the church in 
which she sang. Charley was very handsome; 
the " romantic " son of an old, impoverished 
family. He had refused to go into a good busi- 
ness with his uncles and had gone abroad to study 
music when that was an extravagant and pic- 
turesque thing for an Ohio boy to do. His let- 
ters home were handed round among the members 
of his own family* and of other families equally 
conservative. Indeed, Charley and what his 
mother called " his music " were the romantic 
expression of a considerable group of people; 
young cousins and old aunts and quiet-dwelling 
neighbours, allied by the amity of several genera- 
tions. Nobody was properly married in our part 

- 9 8- 



The Diamond Mine 



of Columbus unless Charley Wilton, and no other, 
played the wedding march. The old ladies of the 
First Church used to say that he " hovered over 
the keys like a spirit." At nineteen Cressida was 
beautiful enough to turn a much harder head than 
the pale, ethereal one Charley Wilton bent above 
the organ. 

That the chapter which began so gracefully ran 
on into such a stretch of grim, hard prose, was 
simply Cressida's relentless bad luck. In her un- 
dertakings, in whatever she could lay hold of with 
her two hands, she was successful; but whatever 
happened to her was almost sure to be bad. Her 
family, her husbands, her son, would have crushed 
any other woman I have ever known. Cressida 
lived, more than most of us, u for others "; and 
what she seemed to promote among her benefici- 
aries was indolence and envy and discord even 
dishonesty and turpitude. 

Her sisters were fond of saying at club 
luncheons that Cressida had remained "un- 
touched by the breath of scandal," which was not 
strictly true. There were captious people who 
objected to her long and close association with 
Miletus Poppas. Her second husband, Ransome 
McChord, the foreign representative of the great 
McChord Harvester Company, whom she married 
in Germany, had so persistently objected to Pop- 
pas that she was eventually forced to choose be- 
99 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

tween them. Any one who knew her well could 
easily understand why she chose Poppas. 

While her actual self was the least changed, the 
least modified by experience that it would be pos- 
sible to imagine, there had been, professionally, 
two Cressida Garnets; the big handsome girl, al- 
ready a " popular favourite " of the concert stage, 
who took with her to Germany the raw material 
of a great voice; and the accomplished artist 
who came back. The singer that returned was 
largely the work of Miletus Poppas. Cressida 
had at least known what she needed, hunted for 
it, found it, and held fast to it. After experi- 
menting with a score of teachers and accompanists, 
she settled down to work her problem out with 
Poppas. Other coaches came and went she 
was always trying new ones but Poppas sur- 
vived them all. Cressida was not musically in- 
telligent; she never became so. Who does not 
remember the countless rehearsals which were 
necessary before she first sang Isolde in Berlin; 
the disgust of the conductor, the sullenness of the 
tenor, the rages of the blonde teufelin, boiling 
with the impatience of youth and genius, who 
sang her Brangaena? Everything but her driving 
power Cressida had to get from the outside. 

Poppas was, in his way, quite as incomplete as 
his pupil. He possessed a great many valuable 
things for which there is no market; intuitions, 
IOO 



The Diamond Mine 



discrimination, imagination, a whole twilight 
world of intentions and shadowy beginnings which 
were dark to Cressida. I remember that when 
" Trilby " was published she fell into a fright and 
said such books ought to be prohibited by law; 
which gave me an intimation of what their rela- 
tionship had actually become. 

Poppas was indispensable to her. He was like 
a book in which she had written down more about 
herself than she could possibly remember and 
it was information that she might need at any 
moment. He was the one person who knew her 
absolutely and who saw into the bottom of her 
grief. An artist's saddest secrets are those that 
have to do with his artistry. Poppas knew all the 
simple things that were so desperately hard for 
Cressida, all the difficult things in which she could 
count on herself; her stupidities and inconsisten- 
cies, the chiaroscuro of the voice itself and what 
could be expected from the mind somewhat mis- 
mated with it. He knew where she was sound 
and where she was mended. With him she could 
share the depressing knowledge of what a 
wretchedly faulty thing any productive faculty is. 

But if Poppas was necessary to her career, she 
was his career. By the time Cressida left the 
Metropolitan Opera Company, Poppas was a rich 
man. He had always received a retaining fee and 
a percentage of her salary, and he was a man 
101 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

of simple habits. Her liberality with Poppas was 
one of the weapons that Horace and the Garnets 
used against Cressida, and it was a point in the 
argument by which they justified to themselves 
their rapacity. Whatever they didn't get, they 
told themselves, Poppas would. What they got, 
therefore, they were only saving from Poppas. 
The Greek ached a good deal at the general 
pillage, and Cressida's conciliatory methods with 
her family made him sarcastic and spiteful. But 
he had to make terms, somehow, with the Garnets 
and Horace, and with the husband, if there hap- 
pened to be one. He sometimes reminded them, 
when they fell to wrangling, that they must not, 
after all, overturn the boat under them, and that 
it would be better to stop just before they drove 
her wild than just after. As he was the only one 
among them who understood the sources of her 
fortune, and they knew it, he was able, when 
it came to a general set-to, to proclaim sanctuary 
for the goose that laid the golden eggs. 

That Poppas had caused the break between 
Cressida and McChord was another stick her sis- 
ters held over her. They pretended to under- 
stand perfectly, and were always explaining what 
they termed her " separation " ; but they let Cres- 
sida know that it cast a shadow over her family 
and took a good deal of living down. 

A beautiful soundness of body, a seemingly ex- 
102 



The Diamond Mine 



haustless vitality, and a certain " squareness " of 
character as well as of mind, gave Cressida Gar- 
net earning powers that were exceptional even in 
her lavishly rewarded profession. Managers 
chose her oyer the heads of singers much more 
gifted, because she was so sane, so conscientious, 
and above all, because she was so sure. Her effi- 
ciency was like a beacon to lightly anchored men, 
and in the intervals between her marriages she had 
as many suitors as Penelope. Whatever else they 
saw in her at first, her competency so impressed 
and delighted them that they gradually lost sight 
of everything else. Her sterling character was 
the subject of her story. Once, as she said, she 
very nearly escaped her destiny. With Blasius 
Bouchalka she became almost another woman, but 
not quite. Her " principles," or his lack of them, 
drove those two apart in the end. It was of 
Bouchalka that we talked upon that last voyage 
I ever made with Cressida Garnet, and not of 
Jerome Brown. She remembered the Bohemian 
kindly, and since it was the passage in her life to 
which she most often reverted, it is the one I shall 
relate here. 

Ill 

Late one afternoon in the winter of 189-, 
Cressida and I were walking in Central Park 
after the first heavy storm of the year. The snow 
103 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

had been falling thickly all the night before, and 
all day, until about four o'clock. Then the air 
grew much warmer and the sky cleared. Over- 
head it was a soft, rainy blue, and to the west a 
smoky gold. All around the horizon everything 
became misty and silvery; even the big, brutal 
buildings looked like pale violet water-colours on 
a silver ground. Under the elm trees along the 
Mall the air was purple as wisterias. The sheep- 
field, toward Broadway, was smooth and white, 
with a thin gold wash over it. At five o'clock 
the carriage came for us, but Cressida sent the 
driver home to the Tenth Street house with the 
message that she would dine uptown, and that 
Horace and Mr. Poppas were not to wait for her. 
As the horses trotted away we turned up the Mall. 

" I won't go indoors this evening for any one," 
Cressida declared. " Not while the sky is like 
that. Now we will go back to the laurel wood. 
They are so black, over the snow, that I could cry 
for joy. I don't know when I've felt so care-free 
as I feel tonight. Country winter, country stars 
they always make me think of Charley Wil- 
ton." 

She was singing twice a week, sometimes 
oftener, at the Metropolitan that season, quite at 
the flood-tide of her powers, and so enmeshed in 
operatic routine that to be walking in the park at 
an unaccustomed hour, unattended by one of the 
104 



The Diamond Mine 



men of her entourage, seemed adventurous. As 
we strolled along the little paths among the snow 
banks and the bronze laurel bushes, she kept going 
back to my poor young cousin, dead so long. 
" Things happen out of season. That's the worst 
of living. It was untimely for both of us, and 
yet," she sighed softly, " since he had to die, I'm 
not sorry. There was one beautifully happy year, 
though we were so poor, and it gave him some- 
thing! It would have been too hard if he'd had 
to miss everything." (I remember her simplic- 
ity, which never changed any more than winter 
or Ohio change.) " Yes," she went on, "I al- 
ways feel very tenderly about Charley. I believe 
I'd do the same thing right over again, even know- 
ing all that had to come after. If I were nineteen 
tonight, I'd rather go sleigh-riding with Charley 
Wilton than anything else I've ever done." 

We walked until the procession of carriages on 
the driveway, getting people home to dinner, grew 
thin, and then we went slowly toward the Seventh 
Avenue gate, still talking of Charley Wilton. 
We decided to dine at a place not far away, where 
the only access from the street was a narrow door, 
like a hole in the wall, between a tobacconist's and 
a flower shop. Cressida deluded herself into be- 
lieving that her incognito was more successful in 
such non-descript places. She was wearing a long 
sable coat, and a deep fur hat, hung with red 
105 . 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

cherries, which she had brought from Russia. 
Her walk had given her a fine colour, and she 
looked so much a personage that no disguise could 
have been wholly effective. 

The dining-rooms, frescoed with conventional 
Italian scenes, were built round a court. The 
orchestra was playing as we entered and selected 
our table. It was not a bad orchestra, and we 
were no sooner seated than the first violin began 
to speak, to assert itself, as if it were suddenly 
done with mediocrity. 

' We have been recognized," Cressida said com- 
placently. " What a good tone he has, quite un- 
usual. What does he look like?" She sat with 
her back to the musicians. 

The violinist was standing, directing his men 
with his head and with the beak of his violin. He 
was a tall, gaunt young man, big-boned and rug- 
ged, in skin-tight clothes. His high forehead had 
a kind of luminous pallour, and his hair was jet 
black and somewhat stringy. His manner was 
excited and dramatic. At the end of the number 
he acknowledged the applause, and Cressida 
looked at him graciously over her shoulder. He 
swept her with a brilliant glance and bowed again. 
Then I noticed his red lips and thick black eye- 
brows. 

u He looks as if he were poor or in trouble," 
'Cressida said. " See how short his sleeves are, 
1 06 



The Diamond Mine 



and how he mops his face as if the least thing 
upset him. This is a hard winter for musicians/' 

The violinist rummaged among some music 
piled on a chair, turning over the sheets with 
flurried rapidity, as if he were searching for a 
lost article of which he was in desperate need. 
Presently he placed some sheets upon the piano 
and began vehemently to explain something to the 
pianist. The pianist stared at the music doubt- 
fully he was a plump old man with a rosy, bald 
crown, and his shiny linen and neat tie made him 
look as if he were on his way to a party. The 
violinist bent over him, suggesting rhythms with 
his shoulders and running his bony finger up and 
down the pages. When he stepped back to his 
place, I noticed that the other players sat at ease, 
without raising their instruments. 

" He is going to try something unusual," I com- 
mented. " It looks as if it might be manuscript." 

It was something, at all events, that neither of 
us had heard before, though it was very much in 
the manner of the later Russian composers who 
were just beginning to be heard in New York. 
The young man made a brilliant dash of it, despite 
a lagging, scrambling accompaniment by the con- 
servative pianist. This time we both applauded 
him vigorously and again, as he bowed, he swept 
us with his eye. 

The usual repertory of restaurant music fol- 
107 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

lowed, varied by a charming bit from Massenet's 
" Manon," then little known in this country. 
After we paid our check, Cressida took out one of 
her visiting cards and wrote across the top of it: 
" We thank you for the unusual music and the 
pleasure your playing has given us." She folded 
the card in the middle, and asked the waiter to 
give it to the director of the orchestra. Pausing 
at the door, while the porter dashed out to call a 
cab, we saw, in the wall mirror, a pair of wild 
black eyes following us quite despairingly from be- 
hind the palms at the other end of the room. 
Cressida observed as we went out that the young 
man was probably having a hard struggle. " He 
never got those clothes here, surely. They were 
probably made by a country tailor in some little 
town in Austria. He seemed wild enough to grab 
at anything, and was trying to make himself heard 
above the dishes, poor fellow. There are so many 
like him. I wish I could help them all ! I didn't 
quite have the courage to send him money. His 
smile, when he bowed to us, was not that of one 
who would take it, do you think? " 

" No," I admitted, " it wasn't. He seemed to 
be pleading for recognition. I don't think it was 
money he wanted." 

A week later I came upon some curious-looking 
manuscript songs on the piano in Cressida's music 
room. The text was in some Slavic tongue with 
108 



The Diamond Mine 



a French translation written underneath. Both 
the handwriting and the musical script were done 
in a manner experienced, even distinguished. I 
was looking at them when Cressida came in. 

" Oh, yes ! " she exclaimed. " I meant to ask 
you to try them over. Poppas thinks they are 
very interesting. They are from that young vio- 
linist, you remember, the one we noticed in the 
restaurant that evening. He sent them with such 
a nice letter. His name is Blasius Bouchalka 
(Bou-kal-ka), a Bohemian." 

I sat down at the piano and busied myself with 
the manuscript, while Cressida dashed off neces- 
sary notes and wrote checks in a large square 
checkbook, six to a page. I supposed her im- 
mersed in sumptuary preoccupations when she 
suddenly looked over her shoulder and said, 
1 Yes, that legend, Sarka, is the most interesting. 
Run it through a few times and I'll try it over 
with you." 

There was another, " Dans les ombres des 
forets tristes" which I thought quite as beautiful. 
They were fine songs; very individual, and each 
had that spontaneity which makes a song seem 
inevitable and, once for all, " done." The ac- 
companiments were difficult, but not unnecessarily 
so; they were free from fatuous ingenuity and fine 
writing. 

" I wish he'd indicated his tempi a little more 
109 ' 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

clearly," I remarked as I finished Sarka for the 
third time. " It matters, because he really has 
something to say. An orchestral accompaniment 
would be better, I should think." 

" Yes, he sent the orchestral arrangement. 
Poppas has it. It works out beautifully, so 
much colour in the instrumentation. The Eng- 
lish horn comes in so effectively there," she rose 
and indicated the passage, " just right with the 
voice. I've asked him to come next Sunday, so 
please be here if you can. I want to know what 
you think of him." 

Cressida was always at home to her friends on 
Sunday afternoon unless she was billed for the 
evening concert at the Opera House, in which case 
we were sufficiently advised by the daily press. 
Bouchalka must have been told to come early, for 
when I arrived on Sunday, at four, he and Cres- 
sida had the music-room quite to themselves and 
were standing by the piano in earnest conversa- 
tion. In a few moments they were separated by 
other early comers, and I led Bouchalka across 
the hall to the drawing-room. The guests, as 
they came in, glanced at him curiously. He wore 
a dark blue suit, soft and rather baggy, with a 
short coat, and a high double-breasted vest with 
two rows of buttons coming up to the loops of his 
black tie. This costume was even more foreign- 
looking than his skin-tight dress clothes, but it 
no 



The Diamond Mine 



was more becoming. He spoke hurried, elliptical 
English, and very good French. All his sym- 
pathies were French rather than German the 
Czecks lean to the one culture or to the other. I 
found him a fierce, a transfixing talker. His bril- 
liant eyes, his gaunt hands, his white, deeply-lined 
forehead, all entered into his speech. 

I asked him whether he had not recognized 
Madame Garnet at once when we entered the 
restaurant that evening more than a week ago. 

" Mais, certainement! I hear her twice when 
she sings in the afternoon, and sometimes at night 
for the last act. I have a friend who buys a 
ticket for the first part, and he comes out and 
gives to me his pass-back check, and I return for 
the last act. That is convenient if I am broke." 
He explained the trick with amusement but with- 
out embarrassment, as if it were a shift that we 
might any of us be put to. 

I told him that I admired his skill with the 
violin, but his songs much more. 

He threw out his red under-lip and frowned. 
" Oh, I have no instrument! The violin I play 
from necessity; the flute, the piano, as it hap- 
pens. For three years now I write all the time, 
and it spoils the hand for violin." 

When the maid brought him his tea, he took 
both muffins and cakes and told me that he was 
very hungry. He had to lunch and dine at the 
in 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

place where he played, and he got very tired of 
the food. " But since," his black eyebrows nearly 
met in an acute angle, " but since, before, I eat 
at a bakery, with the slender brown roach on the 
pie, I guess I better let alone well enough." He 
paused to drink his tea; as he tasted one of the 
cakes his face lit with sudden animation and he 
gazed across the hall after the maid with the tray 
she was now holding it before the aged and 
ossified 'cellist of the Hempfstangle Quartette. 
" Des gateaux" he murmured feelingly, " ou 
est-ce qu y elle pent trouver de tels gateaux id a 
New York?" 

I explained to him that Madame Garnet had 
an accomplished cook who made them, an Aus- 
trian, I thought. 

He shook his head. " Austrichiennef Je ne 
pense pas." 

Cressida was approaching with the new Span- 
ish soprano, Mme. Bartolas, who was all black 
velvet and long black feathers, with a lace veil 
over her rich pallour and even a little black patch 
on her chin. I beckoned them. " Tell me, Cres- 
sida, isn't Ruzenka an Austrian?" 

She looked surprised. " No, a Bohemian, 
though I got her in Vienna." Bouchalka's ex- 
pression, and the remnant of a cake in his long 
fingers, gave her the connection. She laughed. 
" You like them? Of course, they are of your 
112 



The Diamond Mine 



own country. You shall have more of them." 
She nodded and went away to greet a guest who 
had just come in. 

A few moments later, Horace, then a beautiful 
lad in Eaton clothes, brought another cup of tea 
and a plate of cakes for Bouchalka. We sat down 
in a corner, and talked about his songs. He was 
neither boastful nor deprecatory. He knew ex- 
actly in what respects they were excellent. I de- 
cided as I watched his face, that he must be under 
thirty. The deep lines in his forehead probably 
came there from his habit of frowning densely 
when he struggled to express himself, and sud- 
denly elevating his coal-black eyebrows when his 
ideas cleared. His teeth were white, very irregu- 
lar and interesting. The corrective methods of 
modern dentistry would have taken away half 
his good looks. His mouth would have been 
much less attractive for any re-arranging of those 
long, narrow, over-crowded teeth. Along with 
his frown and his way of thrusting out his lip, they 
contributed, somehow, to the engaging impetuous- 
ness of his conversation. As we talked about his 
songs, his manner changed. Before that he had 
seemed responsive and easily pleased. Now he 
grew abstracted, as if I had taken away his pleas- 
ant afternoon and wakened him to his miseries. 
He moved restlessly in his clothes. When I men- 
tioned Puccini, he held his head in his hands. 

113 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

" Why is it they like that always and always? A 
little, oh yes, very nice. But so much, always 
the same thing! Why?" He pierced me with 
the despairing glance which had followed us out 
of the restaurant. 

I asked him whether he had sent any of his 
songs to the publishers and named one whom I 
knew to be discriminating. He shrugged his 
shoulders. " They not want Bohemian songs. 
They not want my music. Even the street cars 
will not stop for me here, like for other people. 
Every time, I wait on the corner until somebody 
else make a signal to the car, and then it stop, 
but not for me." 

Most people cannot become utterly poor; what- 
ever happens, they can right themselves a little. 
But one felt that Bouchalka was the sort of per- 
son who might actually starve or blow his brains 
out. Something very important had been left out 
either of his make-up or of his education; some- 
thing that we are not accustomed to miss in peo- 
pie. 

Gradually the parlour was filled with little 
groups of friends, and I took Bouchalka back to 
the music-room where Cressida was surrounded 
by her guests; feathered women, with large 
sleeves and hats, young men of no importance, in 
frock coats, with shining hair, and the smile which 
is intended to say so many flattering things but 
114 



The Diamond Mine 



which really expresses little more than a desire 
to get on. The older men were standing about 
waiting for a word a deux with the hostess. To 
these people Bouchalka had nothing to say. He 
stood stiffly at the outer edge of the circle, watch- 
ing Cressida with intent, impatient eyes, until, 
under the pretext of showing him a score, she 
drew him into the alcove at the back end of the 
long room, where she kept her musical library. 
The bookcases ran from the floor to the ceiling. 
There was a table and a reading-lamp, and a win- 
dow seat looking upon the little walled garden. 
Two persons could be quite withdrawn there, and 
yet be a part of the general friendly scene. Cres- 
sida took a score from the shelf, and sat down 
with Bouchalka upon the window seat, the book 
open between them, though neither of them looked 
at it again. They fell to talking with great earn- 
estness. At last the Bohemian pulled out a large, 
yellowing silver watch, held it up before him, and 
stared at it a moment as if it were an object of 
horror. He sprang up, bent over Cressida's hand 
and murmured something, dashed into the hall 
and out of the front door without waiting for the 
maid to open it. He had worn no overcoat, ap- 
parently. It was then seven o'clock; he would 
surely be late at his post in the up-town restaurant. 
I hoped he would have wit enough to take the 
elevated. 

115' 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

After supper Cressida told me his story. His 
parents, both poor musicians, the mother a 
singer died while he was yet a baby, and he 
was left to the care of an arbitrary uncle who 
resolved to make a priest of him. He was put 
into a monastery school and kept there. The 
organist and choir-director, fortunately for 
Blasius, was an excellent musician, a man who had 
begun his career brilliantly, but who had met with 
crushing sorrows and disappointments in the 
world. He devoted himself to his talented pupil, 
and was the only teacher the young man ever had. 
At twenty-one, when he was ready for the novi- 
tiate, Blasius felt that the call of life was too 
strong for him, and he ran away out into a world 
of which he knew nothing. He tramped south- 
ward to Vienna, begging and playing his fiddle 
from town to town. In Vienna he fell in with a 
gipsy band which was being recruited for a Paris 
restaurant and went with them to Paris. He 
played in cafes and in cheap theatres, did trans- 
cribing for a music publisher, tried to get pupils. 
For four years he was the mouse, and hunger was 
the cat. She kept him on the jump. When he 
got work he did not understand why; when he 
lost a job he did not understand why. During 
the time when most of us acquire a practical sense, 
get a half-unconscious knowledge of hard facts and 
market values, he had been shut away from the 
116 



The Diamond Mine 



world, fed like the pigeons in the bell-tower of 
his monastery. Bouchalka had now been in New 
York a year, and for all he knew about it, Cres- 
sida said, he might have landed the day before 
yesterday. 

Several weeks went by, and as Bouchalka did 
not reappear on Tenth Street, Cressida and I 
went once more to the place where he had played, 
only to find another violinist leading the orchestra. 
We summoned the proprietor, a Swiss-Italian, 
polite and solicitous. He told us the gentleman 
was not playing there any more, was playing 
somewhere else, but he had forgotten where. We 
insisted upon talking to the old pianist, who at last 
reluctantly admitted that the Bohemian had been 
dismissed. He had arrived very late one Sunday 
night three weeks ago, and had hot words with 
the proprietor. He had been late before, and 
had been warned. He was a very talented fel- 
low, but wild and not to be depended upon. The 
old man gave us the address of a French boarding- 
house on Seventh Avenue where Bouchalka used 
to room. We drove there at oncej but the woman 
who kept the place said that he had gone away 
two weeks before, leaving no address, as he never 
got letters. Another Bohemian, who did engrav- 
ing on glass, had a room with her, and when he 
came home perhaps he could tell where Bouchalka 
was, for they were friends. 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

It took us several days to run Bouchalka down, 
but when we did find him Cressida promptly busied 
herself in his behalf. She sang his " Sarka " with 
the Metropolitan Opera orchestra at a Sunday 
night concert, she got him a position with the 
Symphony Orchestra, and persuaded the conserva- 
tive Hempfstangle Quartette to play one of his 
chamber compositions from manuscript. She 
aroused the interest of a publisher in his work, and 
introduced him to people who were helpful to 
him. 

By the new year Bouchalka was fairly on his 
feet. He had proper clothes now, and Cressida's 
friends found him attractive. He was usually at 
her house on Sunday afternoons; so usually, in- 
deed, that Poppas began pointedly to absent him- 
self. When other guests arrived, the Bohemian 
and his patroness were always found at the critical 
point of discussion, at the piano, by the fire, in 
the alcove at the end of the room both of them 
interested and animated. He was invariably re- 
spectful and admiring, deferring to her in every 
tone and gesture, and she was perceptibly pleased 
and flattered, as if all this were new to her and 
she were tasting the sweetness of a first success. 

One wild day in March Cressida burst tempest- 
uously into my apartment and threw herself down, 
declaring that she had just come from the most 
trying rehearsal she had ever lived through. 
118 



The Diamond Mine 



When I tried to question her about it, she replied 
absently and continued to shiver and crouch by the 
fire. Suddenly she rose, walked to the window, 
and stood looking out over the Square, glittering 
with ice and rain and strewn with the wrecks of 
umbrellas. When she turned again, she ap- 
proached me with determination. 

" I shall have to ask you to go with me," she 
said firmly. " That crazy Bouchalka has gone 
and got a pleurisy or something. It may be pneu- 
monia; there is an epidemic of it just now. I've 
sent Dr. Brooks to him, but I can never tell any- 
thing from what a doctor says. I've got to see 
Bouchalka and his nurse, and what sort of place 
he's in. I've been rehearsing all day and I'm 
singing tomorrow night; I can't have so much on 
my mind. Can you come with me ? It will save 
time in the end." 

I put on my furs, and we went down to Cres- 
sida's carriage, waiting below. She gave the 
driver a number on Seventh Avenue, and then be- 
gan feeling her throat with the alarmed expression 
which meant that she was not going to talk. We 
drove in silence to the address, and by this time 
it was growing dark. The French landlady was 
a cordial, comfortable person who took Cressida 
in at a glance and seemed much impressed. Cres- 
sida's incognito was never successful. Her black 
gown was inconspicuous enough, but over it she 
119 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

wore a dark purple velvet carriage coat, lined with 
fur and furred at the cuffs and collar. The 
Frenchwoman's eye ran over it delightedly and 
scrutinized the veil which only half-concealed the 
well-known face behind it. She insisted upon 
conducting us up to the fourth floor herself, run- 
ning ahead of us and turning up the gas jets in the 
dark, musty-smelling halls. I suspect that she 
tarried outside the door after we sent the nurse for 
her walk. 

We found the sick man in a great walnut bed, 
a relic of the better days which this lodging house 
must have seen. The grimy red plush carpet, the 
red velvet chairs with broken springs, the double 
gilt-framed mirror above the mantel, had all been 
respectable, substantial contributions to comfort 
in their time. The fireplace was now empty and 
grateless, and an ill-smelling gas stove burned in 
its sooty recess under the cracked marble. The 
huge arched windows were hung with heavy red 
curtains, pinned together and lightly stirred by 
the wind which rattled the loose frames. 

I was examining these things while Cressida 
bent over Bouchalka. Her carriage cloak she 
threw over the foot of his bed, either from a 
protective impulse, or because there was no place 
else to put it. After she had greeted him and 
seated herself, the sick man reached down and 
drew the cloak up over him, looking at it with 
1 20 



The Diamond Mine 



weak, childish pleasure and stroking the velvet 
with his long fingers. " Couleur de gloire, 
couleur des r ernes! " I heard him murmur. He 
thrust the sleeve under his chin and closed his 
eyes. His loud, rapid breathing was the only 
sound in the room. If Cressida brushed back his 
hair or touched his hand, he looked up long enough 
to give her a smile of utter adoration, naive and 
uninquiring, as if he were smiling at a dream or a 
miracle. 

The nurse was gone for an hour, and we sat 
quietly, Cressida with her eyes fixed on Bou- 
chalka, and I absorbed in the strange atmosphere 
of the house, which seemed to seep in under the 
door and through the walls. Occasionally we 
heard a call for " de I'eau chaude! " and the heavy 
trot of a serving woman on the stairs. On the 
floor below somebody was struggling with Schu- 
bert's Marche Militaire on a coarse-toned up- 
right piano. Sometimes, when a door was opened, 
one could hear a parrot screaming, " Foila, voila, 
tonnerre! J) The house was built before 1870, as 
one could tell from windows and mouldings, and 
the walls were thick. The sounds were not dis- 
turbing and Bouchalka was probably used to them. 

When the nurse returned and we rose to go, 

Bouchalka still lay with his cheek on ,her cloak, 

and Cressida left it. " It seems to please him," 

she murmured as we went down the stairs. " I 

121 . 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

can go home without a wrap. It's not far." I 
had, of course, to give her my furs, as I was not 
singing Donna Anna tomorrow evening and she 
was. 

After this I was not surprised by any devout 
attitude in which I happened to find the Bohe- 
mian when I entered Cressida's music-room unan- 
nounced, or by any radiance on her face when she 
rose from the window-seat in the alcove and came 
down the room to greet me. 

Bouchalka was, of course, very often at the 
Opera now. On almost any night when Cressida 
sang, one could see his narrow black head high 
above the temples and rather constrained behind 
the ears peering from some part of the house. 
I used to wonder what he thought of Cressida as 
an artist, but probably he did not think seriously 
at all. A great voice, a handsome woman, a great 
prestige, all added together made a " great art- 
ist," the common synonym for success. Her suc- 
cess, and the material evidences of it, quite blinded 
him. I could never draw from him anything ad- 
equate about Anna Straka, Cressida's Slavic rival, 
and this perhaps meant that he considered com- 
parison disloyal. All the while that Cressida was 
singing reliably, and satisfying the management, 
Straka was singing uncertainly and making history. 
Her voice was primarily defective, and her im- 
mediate vocal method was bad. Cressida was al- 
122 



The Diamond Mine 



ways living up to her contract, delivering the whole 
order in good condition ; while the Slav was some- 
times almost voiceless, sometimes inspired. She 
put you off with a hope, a promise, time after time. 
But she was quite as likely to put you off with a 
revelation, with an interpretation that was in- 
imitable, unrepeatable. 

Bouchalka was not a reflective person. He 
had his own idea of what a great prima donna 
should be like, and he took it for granted that 
Mme. Garnet corresponded to his conception. 
The curious thing was that he managed to im- 
press his idea upon Cressida herself. She began 
to see herself as he saw her, to try to be like the 
notion of her that he carried somewhere in that 
pointed head of his. She was exalted quite be- 
yond herself. Things that had been chilled un- 
der the grind came to life in her that winter, with 
the breath of Bouchalka's adoration. Then, if 
ever in her life, she heard the bird sing on the 
branch outside her window; and she wished she 
were younger, lovelier, freer. She wished there 
were no Poppas, no Horace, no Garnets. She 
longed to be only the bewitching creature Bou- 
chalka imagined her. 

One April day when we were driving in the 

Park, Cressida, superb in a green-and-primrose 

costume hurried over from Paris, turned to me 

smiling and said: "Do you know, this is the 

123 






Youth and the Bright Medusa 

first spring I haven't dreaded. It's the first one 
I've ever really had. Perhaps people never have 
more than one, whether it comes early or l#te." 
She told me that she was overwhelmingly in love. 

Our visit to Bouchalka when he was ill had, of 
course, been reported, and the men about the 
Opera House had made of it the only story they 
have the wit to invent. They could no more 
change the pattern of that story than the spider 
could change the design of its web. But being, as 
she said, " in love " suggested to Cressida only 
one plan of action; to have the Tenth Street house 
done over, to put more money into her brothers' 
business, send Horace to school, raise Poppas' 
percentage, and then with a clear conscience be 
married in the Church of the Ascension. She went 
through this program with her usual thorough- 
ness. She was married in June and sailed imme- 
diately with her husband. Poppas was to join 
them in Vienna in August, when she would begin 
to work again. From her letters I gathered that 
all was going well, even beyond her hopes. 

When they returned in October, both Cressida 
and Blasius seemed changed for the better. She 
was perceptibly freshened and renewed. She at- 
tacked her work at once with more vigour and 
more ease; did not drive herself so relentlessly. 
A little carelessness became her wonderfully. 
Bouchalka was less gaunt, and much less flighty 
124 



The Diamond Mine 



and perverse. His frank pleasure in the comfort 
and order of his wife's establishment was in- 
gratiating, even if it was a little amusing. Cres- 
sida had the sewing-room at the top of the house 
made over into a study for him. When I went 
up there to see him, I usually found him sitting 
before the fire or walking about with his hands in 
his coat pockets, admiring his new possessions. 
He explained the ingenious arrangement of his 
study to me a dozen times. 

With Cressida's friends and guests, Bouchalka 
assumed nothing for himself. His deportment 
amounted to a quiet, unobtrusive appreciation of 
her and of his good fortune. He was proud to 
owe his wife so much. Cressida's Sunday after- 
noons were more popular than ever, since she her- 
self had so much more heart for them. Bou- 
chalka's picturesque presence stimulated her 
graciousness and charm. One still found them 
conversing together as eagerly as in the days when 
they saw each other but seldom. Consequently 
their guests were never bored. We felt as if the 
Tenth Street house had a pleasant climate quite its 
own. In the spring, when the Metropolitan com- 
pany went on tour, Cressida's husband accom- 
panied her, and afterward they again sailed for 
Genoa. 

During the second winter people began to say 
that Bouchalka was becoming too thoroughly do- 
125 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

mesticated, and that since he was growing heavier 
in body he was less attractive. I noticed his in- 
creasing reluctance to stir abroad. Nobody 
could say that he was " wild " now. He seemed 
to dread leaving the house, even for an evening. 
Why should he go out, he said, when he had 
everything he wanted at home? He published 
very little. One was given to understand that 
v he was writing an opera. He lived in the Tenth 
Street house like a tropical plant under glass. 
Nowhere in New York could he get such cookery 
as Ruzenka's. Ruzenka (" little Rose") had, 
like her mistress, bloomed afresh, now that she 
had a man and a compatriot to cook for. Her 
invention was tireless, and she took things with a 
high hand in the kitchen, confident of a perfect 
appreciation. She was a plump, fair, blue-eyed 
girl, giggly and easily flattered, with teeth like 
cream. She was passionately domestic, and her 
mind was full of homely stones and proverbs and 
superstitions which she somehow worked into her 
cookery. She and Bouchalka had between them 
a whole literature of traditions about sauces and 
fish and pastry. The cellar was full of the wines 
he liked, and Ruzenka always knew what wines 
to serve with the dinner. Blasius' monastery had 
been famous for good living. 

That winter was a very cold one, and I think 
the even temperature of the house enslaved Bou- 
126 



The Diamond Mine 



chalka. " Imagine it," he once said to me when 
I dropped in during a blinding snowstorm and 
found him reading before the fire. " To be warm 
all the time, every day! It is like Aladdin. In 
Paris I have had weeks together when I was not 
warm once, when I did not have a bath once, like 
the cats in the street. The nights were a misery. 
People have terrible dreams when they are so 
cold. Here I waken up in the night so warm I 
do not know what it means. Her door is open, 
and I turn on my light. I cannot believe in myself 
until I see that she is there." 

I began to think that Bouchalka's wildness had 
been the desperation which the tamest animals 
exhibit when they are tortured or terrorized. 
Naturally luxurious, he had suffered more than 
most men under the pinch of penury. Those first 
beautiful compositions, full of the folk-music of 
his own country, had been wrung out of him by 
home-sickness and heart-ache. I wondered 
whether he could compose only under the spur of 
hunger and loneliness, and whether his talent 
might not subside with his despair. Some such 
apprehension must have troubled Cressida, though 
his gratitude would have been propitiatory to a 
more exacting task-master. She had always liked 
to make people happy, and he was the first one 
who had accepted her bounty without sourness. 
When he did not accompany her upon her spring 
127 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

tour, Cressida said it was because travelling in- 
terfered with composition; but I felt that she 
was deeply disappointed. Blasius, or Blazej, as 
his wife had with difficulty learned to call him, was 
not showy or extravagant. He hated hotels, even 
the best of them. Cressida had always fought 
for the hearthstone and the fireside, and the 
humour of Destiny is sometimes to give us too 
much of what we desire. I believe she would 
have preferred even enthusiasm about other 
women to his utter oisivete. It was his old fire, 
not his docility, that had won her. 

During the third season after her marriage 
Cressida had only twenty-five performances at the 
Metropolitan, and she was singing out of town a 
great deal. Her husband did not bestir himself 
to accompany her, but he attended, very faith- 
fully, to her correspondence and to her business 
at home. He had no ambitious schemes to in- 
crease her fortune, and he carried out her direc- 
tions exactly. Nevertheless, Cressida faced her 
concert tours somewhat grimly, and she seldom 
talked now about their plans for the future. 

The crisis in this growing estrangement came 
about by accident, one of those chance occur- 
rences that affect our lives more than years of or- 
dered effort, and it came in an inverted form of 
a situation old to comedy. Cressida had been on 
the road for several weeks ; singing in Minneapo- 
128 



The Diamond Mine 



lis, Cleveland, St. Paul, then up into Canada and 
back to Boston. From Boston she was to go di- 
rectly to Chicago, coming down on the five o'clock 
train and taking the eleven, over the Lake Shore, 
for the West. By her schedule she would have 
time to change cars comfortably at the Grand Cen- 
tral station. 

On the journey down from Boston she was 
seized with a great desire to see Blasius. She de- 
cided, against her custom, one might say against 
her principles, to risk a performance with the 
Chicago orchestra without rehearsal, to stay the 
night in New York and go west by the afternoon 
train the next day. She telegraphed Chicago, but 
she did not telegraph Blasius, because she wished 
the old fallacy of affection ! to " surprise " 
him. She could take it for granted that, at eleven 
on a cold winter night, he would be in the Tenth 
Street house and nowhere else in New York. She 
sent Poppas paler than usual with accusing 
scorn and her trunks on to Chicago, and with 
only her travelling bag and a sense of being very 
audacious in her behaviour and still very much in 
love, she took a cab for Tenth Street. 

Since it was her intention to disturb Blasius as 
little as possible and to delight him as much as 
possible, she let herself in with her latch-key and 
went directly to his room. She did not find him 
there. Indeed, she found him where he should 
129* 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

not have been at all. There must have been a 
trying scene. 

Ruzenka was sent away in the morning, and the 
other two maids as well. By eight o'clock Cres- 
sida and Bouchalka had the house to themselves. 
Nobody had any breakfast. Cressida took the 
afternoon train to keep her engagement with 
Theodore Thomas, and to think over the situa- 
tion. Blasius was left in the Tenth Street house 
with only the furnace man's wife to look after 
him. His explanation of his conduct was that he 
had been drinking too much. His digression, he 
swore, was casual. It had never occurred be- 
fore, and he could only appeal to his wife's mag- 
nanimity. But it was, on the whole, easier for 
Cressida to be firm than to be yielding, and she 
knew herself too well to attempt a readjustment. 
She had never made shabby compromises, and it 
was too late for her to begin. When she re- 
turned to New York she went to a hotel, and she 
never saw Bouchalka alone again. Since he ad- 
mitted her charge, the legal formalities were con- 
ducted so quietly that the granting of her divorce 
was announced in the morning papers before her 
friends knew that there was the least likelihood of 
one. Cressida's concert tours had interrupted the 
hospitalities of the house. 

While the lawyers were arranging matters, 
Bouchalka came to see me. He was remorseful 
130 



/ 



The Diamond Mine 



and miserable enough, and I think his perplexity 
was quite sincere. If there had been an intrigue 
with a woman of her own class, an infatuation, an 
affair, he said, he could understand. But any- 
thing so venial and accidental He shook his 
head slowly back and forth. He assured me that 
he was not at all himself on that fateful evening, 
and that when he recovered himself he would have 
sent Ruzenka away, making proper provision for 
her, of course. It was an ugly thing, but ugly 
things sometimes happened in one's life, and one 
had to put them away and forget them. He could 
have overlooked any accident that might have oc- 
curred when his wife was on the road, with Pop- 
pas, for example. I cut him short, and he bent 
his head to my reproof. 

" I know," he said, " such things are different 
with her. But when have I said that I am noble 
as she is? Never. But I have appreciated and 
I have adored. About me, say what you like. 
But if you say that in this there was any meprise 
to my wife, that is not true. I have lost all my 
place here. I came in from the streets; but I un- 
derstand her, and all the fine things in her, better 
than any of you here. If that accident had not 
been, she would have lived happy with me for 
years. As for me, I have never believed in this 
happiness. I was not born under a good star. 
How did it come? By accident. It goes by ac- 
131* 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

cident. She tried to give good fortune to an un- 
fortunate man, un miserable; that was her mis- 
take. It cannot be done in this world. The 
lucky should marry the lucky." Bouchalka 
stopped and lit a cigarette. He sat sunk in my 
chair as if he never meant to get up again. His 
large hands, now so much plumper than when I 
first knew him, hung limp. When he had con- 
sumed his cigarette he turned to me again. 

" I, too, have tried. Have I so much as writ- 
ten one note to a lady since she first put out her 
hand to help me? Some of the artists who sing 
my compositions have been quite willing to plague 
my wife a little if I make the least sign. With 
the Espanola, for instance, I have had to be very 
stern, farouche; she is so very playful. I have 
never given my wife the slightest annoyance of 
this kind. Since I married her, I have not kissed 
the cheek of one lady! Then one night I am 
bored and drink too much champagne and I be- 
come a fool. What does it matter? Did my 
wife marry the fool of me? No, she married me, 
with my mind and my feelings all here, as I am 
today. But she is getting a divorce from the fool 
of me, which she would never see anyhow! The 
stupidity which, excuse me, is the thing she will not 
overlook. Even in her memory of me she will be 
harsh." 

His view of his conduct and its consequences 
132 



The Diamond Mine 



was fatalistic: he was meant to have just so 
much misery every day of his life; for three 
years it had been withheld, had been piling up 
somewhere, underground, overhead; now the 
accumulation burst over him. He had come to 
pay his respects to me, he said, to declare his un- 
dying gratitude to Madame Garnet, and to bid 
me farewell. He took up his hat and cane and 
kissed my hand. I have never seen him since. 
Cressida made a settlement upon him, but even 
Poppas, tortured by envy and curiosity, never dis- 
covered how much it was. It was very little, she 
told me. " Pour des gateaux" she added with 
a smile that was not unforgiving. She could not 
bear to think of his being in want when so little 
could make him comfortable. 

He went back to his own village in Bohemia. 
He wrote her that the old monk, his teacher, was 
still alive, and that from the windows of his room 
in the town he could see the pigeons flying forth 
from and back to the monastery bell-tower all day 
long. He sent her a song, with his own words, 
about those pigeons, quite a lovely thing. He 
was the bell tower, and les colombes were his mem- 
ories of her. 

IV 

Jerome Brown proved, on the whole, the worst 
of Cressida's husbands, and, with the possible ex- 
133 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

ception of her eldest brother, Buchanan Garnet, 
he was the most rapacious of the men with whom 
she had had to do. It was one thing to gratify 
every wish of a cake-loving fellow like Bouchalka, 
but quite another to stand behind a financier. 
And Brown would be a financier or nothing. After 
her marriage with him, Cressida grew rapidly 
older. For the first time in her life she wanted 
to go abroad and live to get Jerome Brown 
away from the scene of his unsuccessful but un- 
discouraged activities. But Brown was not a man 
who could be amused and kept out of mischief in 
Continental hotels. He had to be a figure, if 
only a " mark," in Wall street. Nothing else 
would gratify his peculiar vanity. The deeper 
he went in, the more affectionately he told Cres- 
sida that now all her cares and anxieties were 
over. To try to get related facts out of his 
optimism was like trying to find framework in a 
feather bed. All Cressida knew was that she 
was perpetually " investing " to save investments. 
When she told me she had put a mortgage on 
the Tenth Street house, her eyes filled with tears. 
" Why is it? I have never cared about money, 
except to make people happy with it, and it has 
been the curse of my life. It has spoiled all my 
relations with people. Fortunately," she added 
irrelevantly, drying her eyes, " Jerome and Pop- 
pas get along well." Jerome could have got 
134 



The Diamond Mine 



along with anybody; that is a promoter's business. 
His warm hand, his flushed face, his bright eye, 
and his newest funny story, Poppas had no 
weapons that could do execution with a man like 
that. 

Though Brown's ventures never came home, 
there was nothing openly disastrous until the out- 
break of the revolution in Mexico jeopardized 
his interests there. Then Cressida went to Eng- 
land where she could always raise money from 
a faithful public for a winter concert tour. 
When she sailed, her friends knew that her hus- 
band's affairs were in a bad way; but we did not 
know how bad until after Cressida's death. 

Cressida Garnet, as all the world knows, was 
lost on the Titanic. Poppas and Horace, who 
had been travelling with her, were sent on a week 
earlier and came as safely to port as if they had 
never stepped out of their London hotel. But 
Cressida had waited for the first trip of the sea 
monster she still believed that all advertising 
was good and she went down on the road be- 
tween the old world and the new. She had been 
ill, and when the collision occurred she was in her 
stateroom, a modest one somewhere down in the 
boat, for she was travelling economically. Ap- 
parently she never left her cabin. She was not 
seen on the decks, and none of the survivors 
brought any word of her. 

135 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

On Monday, when the wireless messages were 
coming from the Carpathia with the names of the 
passengers who had been saved, I went, with so 
many hundred others, down to the White Star 
offices. There I saw Cressida's motor, her re- 
doubtable initials on the door, with four men sit- 
ting in the limousine. Jerome Brown, stripped 
of the promoter's joviality and looking flabby and 
old, sat behind with Buchanan Garnet, who had 
come on from Ohio. I had not seen him for 
years. He was now an old man, but he was still 
conscious of being in the public eye, and sat turn- 
ing a cigar about in his face with that foolish look 
of importance which Cressida's achievement had 
stamped upon all the Garnets. Poppas was in 
front, with Horace. He was gnawing the finger 
of his chamois glove as it rested on the top of 
his cane. His head was sunk, his shoulders drawn 
together; he looked as old as Jewry. I watched 
them, wondering whether Cressida would come 
back to them if she could. After the last names 
were posted, the four men settled back into the 
powerful car one of the best made and the 
chauffeur backed off. I saw him dash away the 
tears from his face with the back of his driving 
glove. He was an Irish boy, and had been de- 
voted to Cressida. 

When the will was read, Henry Gilbert, the 
lawyer, an old friend of her early youth, and I, 

-136- 



The Diamond Mine 



were named executors. A nice job we had of it. 
Most of her large fortune had been converted 
into stocks that were almost worthless. The mar- 
ketable property realized only a hundred and fifty 
thousand dollars. To defeat the bequest of fifty 
thousand dollars to Poppas, Jerome Brown and 
her family contested the will. They brought 
Cressida's letters into court to prove that the 
will did not represent her intentions, often ex- 
pressed in writing through many years, to " pro- 
vide well " for them. 

Such letters they were ! The writing of a tired, 
overdriven woman; promising money, sending 
money herewith, asking for an acknowledg- 
ment of the draft sent last month, etc. In the 
letters to Jerome Brown she begged for informa- 
tion about his affairs and entreated him to go 
with her to some foreign city where they could 
live quietly and where she could rest; if they were 
careful, there would " be enough for all." 
Neither Brown nor her brothers and sisters had 
any sense of shame about these letters. It seemed 
never to occur to them that this golden stream, 
whether it rushed or whether it trickled, came out 
of the industry, out of the mortal body of a 
woman. They regarded her as a natural source 
of wealth; a copper vein, a diamond mine. 

Henry Gilbert is a good lawyer himself, and 
he employed an able man to defend the will. We 
137 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

determined that in this crisis we would stand by 
Poppas, believing it would be Cressida's wish. 
Out of the lot of them,, he was the only one who 
had helped her to make one penny of the money 
that had brought her so much misery. He was 
at least more deserving than the others. We saw 
to it that Poppas got his fifty thousand, and he 
actually departed, at last, for his city in la salnte 
Asie, where it never rains and where he will never 
again have to hold a hot water bottle to his face. 

The rest of the property was fought for to a 
finish. Poppas out of the way, Horace and 
Brown and the Garnets quarrelled over her per- 
sonal effects. They went from floor to floor of 
the Tenth Street house. The will provided that 
Cressida's jewels and furs and gowns were to go 
to her sisters. Georgie and Julia wrangled over 
them down to the last moleskin. They were 
deeply disappointed that some of the muffs and 
stoles which they remembered as very large, 
proved, when exhumed from storage and exhibited 
beside furs of a modern cut, to be ridiculously 
scant. A year ago the sisters were still reasoning 
with each other about pearls and opals and 
emeralds. 

I wrote Poppas some account of these horrors, 
as during the court proceedings we had become 
rather better friends than of old. His reply ar- 



The Diamond Mine 



rived only a few days ago; a photograph of him- 
self upon a camel, under which is written: 

Traulich und Treu 
ist's nur in der Tiefe: 
falsch und feig 
ist was dort oben sich freutf 

His reply, and the memories it awakens 
memories which have followed Poppas into the 
middle of Asia, seemingly, prompted this in- 
formal narration. 



139 



A Gold Slipper 

MARSHALL McKANN followed his wife 
and her friend Mrs. Post down the aisle 
and up the steps to the stage of the 
Carnegie Music Hall with an ill-concealed feeling 
of grievance. Heaven knew he never went to 
concerts, and to be mounted upon the stage in 
this fashion, as if he were a " highbrow " from 
Sewickley, or some unfortunate with a musical 
wife, was ludicrous. A man went to concerts 
when he was courting, while he was a junior part- 
ner. When he became a person of substance he 
stopped that sort of nonsense. His wife, too, 
was a sensible person, the daughter of an old 
Pittsburgh family as solid and well-rooted as the 
McKanns. She would never have bothered him 
about this concert had not the meddlesome Mrs. 
Post arrived to pay her a visit. Mrs. Post was 
an old school friend of Mrs. McKann, and be- 
cause she lived in Cincinnati she was always keep- 
ing up with the world and talking about things in 
which no one else was interested, music among 
them. She was an aggressive lady, with weighty 
opinions, and a deep voice like a jovial bassoon. 
140 



A Gold Slipper 



She had arrived only last night, and at dinner she 
brought it out that she could on no account miss 
Kitty Ayrshire's recital; it was, she said, the sort 
of thing no one could afford to miss. 

When McKann went into town in the morning 
he found that every seat in the music-hall was sold. 
He telephoned his wife to that effect, and, think- 
ing he had settled the matter, made his reservation 
on the 11.25 train for New York. He was un- 
able to get a drawing-room because this same 
Kitty Ayrshire had taken the last one. He had 
not intended going to New York until the follow- 
ing week, but he preferred to be absent during 
Mrs. Post's incumbency. 

In the middle of the morning, when he was 
deep in his correspondence, his wife called him up 
to say the enterprising Mrs. Post had telephoned 
some musical friends in Sewickley and had found 
that two hundred folding-chairs were to be placed 
on the stage of the concert-hall, behind the piano, 
and that they would be on sale at noon. Would 
he please get seats in the front row? McKann 
asked if they would not excuse him, since he was 
going over to New York on the late train, would 
be tired, and would not have time to dress, etc. 
No, not at all. It would be foolish for two 
women to trail up to the stage unattended. Mrs. 
Post's husband always accompanied her to con- 
certs, and she expected that much attention from 
141 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

her host. He needn't dress, and he could take a 
taxi from the concert-hall to the East Liberty sta- 
tion. 

The outcome of it all was that, though his bag 
was at the station, here was McKann, in the worst 
possible humour, facing the large audience to 
which he was well known, and sitting among a lot 
of music students and excitable old maids. Only 
the desperately zealous or the morbidly curious 
would endure two hours in those wooden chairs, 
and he sat in the front row of this hectic body, 
somehow made a party to a transaction for which 
he had the utmost contempt. 

When McKann had been in Paris, Kitty Ayr- 
shire was singing at the Comique, and he wouldn't 
go to hear her even there, where one found so 
little that was better to do. She was too much 
talked about, too much advertised; always being 
thrust in an American's face as if she were some- 
thing to be proud of. Perfumes and petticoats 
and cutlets were named for her. Some one had 
pointed Kitty out to him one afternoon when she 
was driving in the Bois with a French composer 
old enough, he judged, to be her father who 
was said to be infatuated, carried away by her. 
McKann was told that this was one of the historic 
passions of old age. He had looked at her on 
that occasion, but she was so befrilled and be- 
feathered that he caught nothing but a graceful 
142 



A Gold Slipper 



outline and a small, dark head above a white os- 
trich boa. He had noted with disgust, however, 
the stooped shoulders and white imperial of the 
silk-hatted man beside her, and the senescent line 
of his back. McKann described to his wife this 
unpleasing picture only last night, while he was 
undressing, when he was making every possible 
effort to avert this concert party. But Bessie 
only looked superior and said she wished to hear 
Kitty Ayrshire sing, and that her " private life " 
was something in which she had no interest. 

Well, here he was; hot and uncomfortable, in a 
chair much too small for him, with a row of blind- 
ing footlights glaring in his eyes. Suddenly the 
door at his right elbow opened. Their seats were 
at one end of the front row; he had thought they 
would be less conspicuous there than in the centre, 
and he had not foreseen that the singer would 
walk over him every time she came upon the 
stage. Her velvet train brushed against his trous- 
ers as she passed him. The applause which 
greeted her was neither overwhelming nor pro- 
longed. Her conservative audience did not know 
exactly how to accept her toilette. They were ac- 
customed to dignified concert gowns, like those 
which Pittsburgh matrons (in those days!) wore 
at their daughters' coming-out teas. 

Kitty's gown that evening was really quite out- 
rageous the repartee of a conscienceless Paris- 
143 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

ian designer who took her hint that she wished 
something that would be entirely novel in the 
States. Today, after we have all of us, even 
in the ^uttermost provinces, been educated by 
Baskt and the various Ballets Russes, we would 
accept such a gown without distrust; but then 
it was a little disconcerting, even to the well- 
disposed. It was constructed of a yard or two 
of green velvet a reviling, shrieking green 
which would have made a fright of any woman 
who had not inextinguishable beauty and it 
was made without armholes, a device to which 
we were then so unaccustomed that it was noth- 
ing less than alarming. The velvet skirt split 
back from a transparent gold-lace petticoat, gold 
stockings, gold slippers. The narrow train was, 
apparently, looped to both ankles, and it kept curl- 
ing about her feet like a serpent's tail, turning 
up its gold lining as if it were squirming over on 
its back. It was not, we felt, a costume in which 
to sing Mozart and Handel and Beethoven. 

Kitty sensed the chill in the air, and it amused 
her. She liked to be thought a brilliant artist by 
other artists, but by the world at large she liked to 
be thought a daring creature. She had every rea- 
son to believe, from experience and from example, 
that to shock the great crowd was the surest way 
to get its money and to make her name a house- 
hold word. Nobody ever became a household 
144 



A Gold Slipper 



word of being an artist, surely; and you were not 
a thoroughly paying proposition until your name 
meant something on the sidewalk and in the 
barber-shop. Kitty studied her audience with an 
appraising eye. She liked the stimulus of this 
disapprobation. As she faced this hard-shelled 
public she felt keen and interested; she knew that 
she would give such a recital as cannot often be 
heard for money. She nodded gaily to the young 
man at the piano, fell into an attitude of serious- 
ness, and began the group of Beethoven and Mo- 
zart songs. 

Though McKann would not have admitted it, 
there were really a great many people in the con- 
cert-hall who knew what the prodigal daughter of 
their country was singing, and how well she was 
doing it. They thawed gradually under the 
beauty of her voice and the subtlety of her inter- 
pretation. She had sung seldom in concert then, 
and they had supposed her very dependent upon 
the accessories of the opera. Clean singing, fin- 
ished artistry, were not what they expected from 
her. They began to feel, even, the wayward 
charm of her personality. 

McKann, who stared coldly up at the balconies 
during her first song, during the second glanced 
cautiously at the green apparition before him. 
He was vexed with her for having retained a de- 
butante figure. He comfortably classed all sing- 
145 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

ers especially operatic singers as " fat 
Dutchwomen " or u shifty Sadies," and Kitty 
would not fit into his clever generalization. She 
displayed, under his nose, the only kind of fig- 
ure he considered worth looking at that of a 
very young girl, supple and sinuous and quick- 
silverish; thin, eager shoulders, polished white 
arms that were nowhere too fat and nowhere too 
thin. McKann found it agreeable to look at 
Kitty, but when he saw that the authoritative 
Mrs. Post, red as a turkey-cock with opinions she 
was bursting to impart, was studying and apprais- 
ing the singer through her lorgnette, he gazed 
indifferently out into the house again. He felt 
for his watch, but his wife touched him warningly 
with her elbow which, he noticed, was not at 
all like Kitty's. 

When Miss Ayrshire finished her first group of 
songs, her audience expressed its approval posi- 
tively, but guardedly. She smiled bewitchingly 
upon the people in front, glanced up at the bal- 
conies, and then turned to the company huddled 
on the stage behind her. After her gay and care- 
less bows, she retreated toward the stage door. 
As she passed McKann, she again brushed lightly 
against him, and this time she paused long enough 
to glance down at him and murmur, " Pardon! " 

In the moment her bright, curious eyes rested 
upon him, McKann seemed to see himself as if she 
146 



A Gold Slipper 



were holding a mirror up before him. He be- 
held himself a heavy, solid figure, unsuitably clad 
for the time and place, with a florid, square face, 
well-visored with good living and sane opinions 
an inexpressive countenance. Not a rock face, ex- 
actly, but a kind of pressed-brick-and-cement face, 
a " business " face upon which years and feelings 
had made no mark in which cocktails might 
eventually blast out a few hollows. He had never 
seen himself so distinctly in his shaving-glass as he 
did in that instant when Kitty Ayrshire's liquid eye 
held him, when her bright, inquiring glance roamed 
over his person. After her prehensile train curled 
over his boot and she was gone, his wife turned to 
him and said in the tone of approbation one uses 
when an infant manifests its groping intelligence, 
u Very gracious of her, I'm sure!" Mrs. Post 
nodded oracularly. McKann grunted. 

Kitty began her second number, a group of ro- 
mantic German songs which were altogether more 
her affair than her first number. When she 
turned once to acknowledge the applause behind 
her, she caught McKann in the act of yawning be- 
hind his hand he of course wore no gloves 
and he thought she frowned a little. This did not 
embarrass him; it somehow made him feel im- 
portant. When she retired after the second part 
of the program, she again looked him over curi- 
ously as she passed, and she took marked precau- 
147 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

tion that her dress did not touch him. Mrs. Post 
and his wife again commented upon her considera- 
tion. 

The final number was made up of modern 
French songs which Kitty sang enchantingly, and 
at last her frigid public was thoroughly aroused. 
While she was coming back again and again to 
smile and curtsy, McKann whispered to his wife 
that if there were to be encores he had better make 
a dash for his train. 

" Not at all," put in Mrs. Post. " Kitty is go- 
ing on the same train. She sings in Faust at the 
opera tomorrow night, so she'll take no chances." 

McKann once more told himself how sorry he 
felt for Post. At last Miss Ayrshire returned, 
escorted by her accompanist, and gave the people 
what she of course knew they wanted: the most 
popular aria from the French opera of which the 
title-role had become synonymous with her name 
an opera written for her and to her and round 
about her, by the veteran French composer who 
adored her, the last and not the palest flash 
of his creative fire. This brought her audience 
all the way. They clamoured for more of it, 
but she was not to be coerced. She had been 
unyielding through storms to which this was a 
summer breeze. She came on once more, shrug- 
ged her shoulders, blew them a kiss, and was gone. 
Her last smile was for that uncomfortable part of 



A Gold Slipper 



her audience seated behind her, and she looked 
with recognition at McKann and his ladies as she 
nodded good night to the wooden chairs. 

McKann hurried his charges into the foyer by 
the nearest exit and put them into his motor. 
Then he went over to the Schenley to have a glass 
of beer and a rarebit before train-time. He had 
not, he admitted to himself, been so much bored 
as he pretended. The minx herself was well 
enough, but it was absurd in his fellow-townsmen 
to look owlish and uplifted about her. He had 
no rooted dislike for pretty women; he even didn't 
deny that gay girls had their place in the world, 
but they ought to be kept in their place. He was 
born a Presbyterian, just as he was born a Mc- 
Kann. He sat in his pew in the First Church 
every Sunday, and he never missed a presbytery 
meeting when he was in town. His religion was 
not very spiritual, certainly, but it was substantial 
and concrete, made up of good, hard convictions 
and opinions. It had something to do with 
citizenship, with whom one ought to marry, with 
the coal business (in which his own name was 
powerful) , with the Republican party, and with all 
majorities and established precedents. He was 
hostile to fads, to enthusiasms, to individualism, 
to all changes except in mining machinery and in 
methods of transportation. 

His equanimity restored by his lunch at the 
149 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

Schenley, McKann lit a big cigar, got into his taxi, 
and bowled off through the sleet. 

There was not a sound to be heard or a light to 
be seen. The ice glittered on the pavement and 
on the naked trees. No restless feet were abroad. 
At eleven o'clock the rows of small, comfortable 
houses looked as empty of the troublesome bubble 
of life as the Allegheny cemetery itself. Sud- 
denly the cab stopped, and McKann thrust his head 
out of the window. A woman was standing in 
the middle of the street addressing his driver in 
a tone of excitement. Over against the curb a 
lone electric stood despondent in the storm. The 
young woman, her cloak blowing'about her, turned 
from the driver to McKann himself, speaking 
rapidly and somewhat incoherently. 

" Could you not be so kind as to help us? It 
is Mees Ayrshire, the singer. The juice is gone 
out and we cannot move. We must get to the 
station. Mademoiselle cannot miss the train; she 
sings tomorrow night in New York. It is very 
important. Could you not take us to the station 
at East Liberty?" 

McKann opened the door. " That's all right, 
but you'll have to hurry. It's eleven-ten now. 
You've only got fifteen minutes to make the train. 
Tell her to come along." 

The maid drew back and looked up at him in 
amazement. " But, the hand-luggage to carry, 
150 



A Gold Slipper 



and Mademoiselle to walk! The street Is like 
glass ! " 

McKann threw away his cigar and followed her. 
He stood silent by the door of the derelict, while 
the maid explained that she had found help. The 
driver had gone off somewhere to telephone for 
a car. Miss Ayrshire seemed not at all apprehen- 
sive; she had not doubted that a rescuer would be 
forthcoming. She moved deliberately; out of a 
whirl of skirts she thrust one fur-topped shoe 
McKann saw the flash of the gold stocking above 
it and alighted. 

" So- kind of you! So fortunate for us! " she 
murmured. One hand she placed upon his sleeve, 
and in the other she carried an armful of roses 
that had been sent up to the concert stage. The 
petals showered upon the sooty, sleety pavement 
as she picked her way along. They would be 
lying there tomorrow morning, and the children 
in those houses would wonder if there had been a 
funeral. The maid followed with two leather 
bags. As soon as he had lifted Kitty into his cab 
she exclaimed: 

" My jewel-case ! I have forgotten it. It is 
on the back seat, please. I am so careless ! " 

He dashed back, ran his hand along the cush- 
ions, and discovered a small leather bag. When 
he returned he found the maid and the luggage 
bestowed on the front seat, .and a place left for 
151 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

him on the back seat beside Kitty and her flowers. 

" Shall we be taking you far out of your way? " 
she asked sweetly. " I haven't an idea where the 
station is. I'm not even sure about the name. 
Celine thinks it is East Liberty, but I think it is 
West Liberty. An odd name, anyway. It is a 
Bohemian quarter, perhaps? A district where 
the law relaxes a trifle? " 

McKann replied grimly that he didn't think the 
name referred to that kind of liberty. 

" So much the better," sighed Kitty. " I am 
a Californian; that's the only part of America I 
know very well, and out there, when we called a 
place Liberty Hill or Liberty Hollow well, we 
meant it. You will excuse me if I'm uncommuni- 
cative, won't you ? I must not talk in this raw air. 
My throat is sensitive after a long program." 
She lay back in her corner and closed her eyes. 

When the cab rolled down the incline at East 
Liberty station, the New York express was whis- 
tling in. A porter opened the door. McKann 
sprang out, gave him a claim check and his Pull- 
man ticket, and told him to get his bag at the 
check-stand and rush it on that train. 

Miss Ayrshire, having gathered up her flowers, 
put out her hand to take his arm. ' Why, it's 
you ! " she exclaimed, as she saw his face in the 
light. " What a coincidence ! " She made no 
further move to alight, but sat smiling as if she 
152 



A Gold Slipper 



had just seated herself in a drawing-room and 
were ready for talk and a cup of tea. 

McKann caught her arm. " You must hurry, 
Miss Ayrshire, if you mean to catch that train. 
It stops here only a moment. Can you run? " 

" Can I run ! " she laughed. " Try me ! " 

As they raced through the tunnel and up the 
inside stairway, McKann admitted that he had 
never before made a dash with feet so quick and 
sure stepping out beside him. The white-furred 
boots chased each other like lambs at play, the 
gold stockings flashed like the spokes of a bicycle 
wheel in the sun. They reached the door of Miss 
Ayrshire's state-room just as the train began to 
pull out. McKann was ashamed of the way he 
was panting, for Kitty's breathing was as soft and 
regular as when she was reclining on the back seat 
of his taxi. It had somehow run in his head that 
all these stage women were a poor lot physically 
unsound, overfed creatures, like canaries that 
are kept in a cage and stuffed with song-restorer. 
He retreated to escape her thanks. " Good 
night! Pleasant journey! Pleasant dreams!" 
With a friendly nod in Kitty's direction he closed 
the door behind him. 

He was somewhat surprised to find his own 

bag, his Pullman ticket in the strap, on the seat 

just outside Kitty's door. But there was nothing 

strange about it. He had got the last section left 

153 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

on the train, No. 13, next the drawing-room. 
Every other berth in the car was made up. He 
was just starting to look for the porter when the 
door of the state-room opened and Kitty Ayrshire 
came out. She seated herself carelessly in the 
front seat beside his bag. 

" Please talk to me a little," she said coaxingly. 
" I'm always wakeful after I sing, and I have to 
hunt some one to talk to. Celine and I get so 
tired of each other. We can speak very low, and 
we shall not disturb any one." She crossed her 
feet and rested her elbow on his Gladstone. 
Though she still wore her gold slippers and stock- 
ings, she did not, he thanked Heaven, have on her 
concert gown, but a very demure black velvet 
with some sort of pearl trimming about the neck. 
" Wasn't it funny," she proceeded, " that it hap- 
pened to be you who picked me up? I wanted a 
word with you, anyway." 

McKann smiled in a way that meant he wasn't 
being taken in. " Did you ? We are not very old 
acquaintances." 

" No, perhaps not. But you disapproved to- 
night, and I thought I was singing very well. 
You are very critical in such matters? " 

He had been standing, but now he sat down. 
" My dear young lady, I am not critical at all. I 
know nothing about 4 such matters.' ' 

" And care less? " she said for him. " Well, 
154 



A Gold Slipper 



then we know where we arc, in so far as that is 
concerned. What did displease you? My gown, 
perhaps? It may seem a little outre here, but it's 
the sort of thing all the imaginative designers 
abroad are doing. You like the English sort of 
concert gown better? " 

" About gowns," said McKann, " I know even 
less than about music. If I looked uncomforta- 
ble, it was probably because I was uncomfortable. 
The seats were bad and the lights were annoy- 
ing." 

Kitty looked up with solicitude. " I was sorry 
they sold those seats. I don't like to make people 
uncomfortable in any way. Did the lights give 
you a headache? They are very trying. They 
burn one's eyes out in the end, I believe." She 
paused and waved the porter away with a smile as 
he came toward them. Half-clad Pittsburghers 
were tramping up and down the aisle, casting side- 
long glances at McKann and his companion. 
" How much better they look with all their clothes 
on," she murmured. Then, turning directly to 
McKann again : u I saw you were not well 
seated, but I felt something quite hostile and per- 
sonal. You were displeased with me. Doubtless 
many people are, but I seldom get an opportu- 
nity to question them. It would be nice if you 
took the trouble to tell me why you were dis- 
pleased." 

155 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

She spoke frankly, pleasantly, without a shadow 
of challenge or hauteur. She did not seem to be 
angling for compliments. McKann settled him- 
self in his seat. He thought he would try her out. 
She had come for it, and he would let her have it. 
He found, however, that it was harder to formu- 
late the grounds of his disapproval than he would 
have supposed. Now that he sat face to face with 
her, now that she was leaning against his bag, he 
had no wish to hurt her. 

" I'm a hard-headed business man," he said 
evasively, " and I don't much believe in any of you 
fluffy-ruffles people. I have a sort of natural dis- 
trust of them all, the men more than the women." 

She looked thoughtful. " Artists, you mean? " 
drawing her words slowly. " What is your busi- 
ness?" 

" Coal." 

" I don't feel any natural distrust of business 
men, and I know ever so many. I don't know any 
coal-men, but I think I could become very much 
interested in coal. Am I larger-minded than 
you?" 

McKann laughed. " I don't think you know 
when you are interested or when you are not. I 
don't believe you know what it feels like to be 
really interested. There is so much fake about 
your profession. It's an affectation on both sides. 
I know a great many of the people who went to 



A Gold Slipper 



hear you tonight, and I know that most of them 
neither know nor care anything about music. 
They imagine they do, because it's supposed to be 
the proper thing." 

Kitty sat upright and looked interested. She 
was certainly a lovely creature the only one of 
her tribe he had ever seen that he would cross the 
street to see again. Those were remarkable eyes 
she had curious, penetrating, restless, some- 
what impudent, but not at all dulled by self-con- 
ceit. 

" But isn't that so in everything? " she cried. 
" How many of your clerks are honest because of 
a fine, individual sense of honour? They are 
honest because it is the accepted rule of good con- 
duct in business. Do you know " she looked 
at him squarely " I thought you would have 
something quite definite to say to me; but this is 
funny-paper stuff, the sort of objection I'd expect 
from your office-boy." 

" Then you don't think it silly for a lot of peo- 
ple to get together and pretend to enjoy something 
they know nothing about? " 

" Of course I think it silly, but that's the way 
God made audiences. Don't people go to church 
in exactly the same way? If there were a spirit- 
ual-pressure test-machine at the door, I suspect not 
many of you would get to your pews." 

" How do you know I go to church? " 
157 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

She shrugged her shoulders. " Oh, people with 
these old, ready-made opinions usually go to 
church. But you can't evade me like that." She 
tapped the edge of his seat with the toe of her gold 
slipper. " You sat there all evening, glaring at 
me as if you could eat me alive. Now I give you 
a chance to state your objections, and you merely 
criticize my audience. What is it? Is it merely 
that you happen to dislike my personality? In 
that case, of course, I won't press you." 

" No," McKann frowned, " I perhaps dislike 
your professional personality. As I told you, I 
have a natural distrust of your variety." 

"Natural, I wonder?" Kitty murmured. "I 
don't see why you should naturally dislike singers 
any more than I naturally dislike coal-men. I 
don't classify people by their occupations. Doubt- 
less I should find some coal-men repulsive, and you 
may find some singers so. But I have reason to 
believe that, at least, I'm one of the less repel- 
lent." 

" I don't doubt it," McKann laughed, " and 
you're a shrewd woman to boot. But you are, all 
of you, according to my standards, light people. 
You're brilliant, some of you, but you've no 
depth." 

Kitty seemed to assent, with a dive of her girl- 
ish head. " Well, it's a merit in some things to 
be heavy, and in others to be light. Some things 



A Gold Slipper 



are meant to go deep, and others to go high. Do 
you want all the women in the world to be pro- 
found ?" 

u You are all," he went on steadily, watching 
her with indulgence, " fed on hectic emotions. 
You are pampered. You don't help to carry the 
burdens of the world. You are self-indulgent and 
appetent." 

" Yes, I am," she assented, with a candour 
which he did not expect. " Not all artists are, 
but I am. Why not? If I could once get a con- 
vincing statement as to why I should not be self- 
indulgent, I might change my ways. As for the 
burdens of the world " Kitty rested her chin 
on her clasped hands and looked thoughtful. 
" One should give pleasure to others. My dear 
sir, granting that the great majority of people 
can't enjoy anything very keenly, you'll admit that 
I give pleasure to many more people than you do. 
One should help others who are less fortunate; 
at present I am supporting just eight people, be- 
sides those I hire. There was never another 
family in California that had so many cripples and 
hard-luckers as that into which I had the honour 
to be born. The only ones who could take care 
of themselves were ruined by the San Francisco 
earthquake some time ago. One should make per- 
sonal sacrifices. I do; I give money and time and 
effort to talented students. Oh, I give something 
159 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

much more than that ! something that you prob- 
ably have never given to any one. I give, to the 
really gifted ones, my wish, my desire, my light, 
if I have any; and that, Mr. Worldly Wiseman, 
is like giving one's blood! It's the kind of thing 
you prudent people never give. That is what was 
in the box of precious ointment." Kitty threw 
off her fervour with a slight gesture, as if it were 
a scarf, and leaned back, tucking her slipper 
up on the edge of his seat. " If you saw the 
houses I keep up," she sighed, " and the people I 
employ, and the motor-cars I run And, after 
all, I've only this to do it with." She indicated 
her slender person, which Marshall could almost 
have broken in two with his bare hands. 

She was, he thought, very much like any other 
charming woman, except that she was more so. 
Her familiarity was natural and simple. She was 
at ease because she was not afraid of him or of 
herself, or of certain half-clad acquaintances of 
his who had been wandering up and down the car 
oftener than was necessary. Well, he was not 
afraid, either. 

Kitty put her arms over her head and sighed 
again, feeling the smooth part in her black hair. 
Her head was small capable of great agitation, 
like a bird's; or of great resignation, like a nun's. 
u I can't see why I shouldn't be self-indulgent, 
when I indulge others. I can't understand your 
1 60 



A Gold Slipper 



equivocal scheme of ethics. Now I can under- 
stand Count Tolstoy's, perfectly. I had a long 
talk with him once, about his book ' What is Art? ' 
As nearly as I could get it, he believes that we are 
a race who can exist only by gratifying appetites; 
the appetites are evil, and the existence they carry 
on is evil. We were always sad, he says, without 
knowing why; even in the Stone Age. In some 
miraculous way a divine ideal was disclosed to us, 
directly at variance with our appetites. It gave 
us a new craving, which we could only satisfy by 
starving all the other hungers in us. Happiness 
lies in ceasing to be and to cause being, because the 
thing revealed to us is dearer than any existence 
our appetites can ever get for us. I can under- 
stand that. It's something one often feels in art. 
It is even the subject of the greatest of all operas, 
which, because I can never hope to sing it, I love 
more than all the others." Kitty pulled herself 
up. " Perhaps you agree with Tolstoy? " she 
added languidly. 

u No; I think he's a crank," said McKann, 
cheerfully. 

" What do you mean by a crank? " 

" I mean an extremist." 

Kitty laughed. "Weighty word! You'll al- 
ways have a world full of people who keep to the 
golden mean. Why bother yourself about me and 
Tolstoy?" 

161 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

" I don't, except when you bother me/' 

" Poor man ! It's true this isn't your fault. 
Still, you did provoke it by glaring at me. Why 
did you go to the concert? " 

" I was dragged." 

" I might have known ! " she chuckled, and 
shook her head. " No, you don't give me any 
good reasons. Your morality seems to me the 
compromise of cowardice, apologetic and sneak- 
ing. When righteousness becomes alive and 
burning, you hate it as much as you do beauty. 
You want a little of each in your life, perhaps 
adulterated, sterilized, with the sting taken out. 
It's true enough they are both fearsome things 
when they get loose in the world; they don't, of- 
ten." 

McKann hated tall talk. " My views on 
women," he said slowly, " are simple." 

" Doubtless," Kitty responded dryly, " but are 
they consistent? Do you apply them to your 
stenographers as well as to me? I take it for 
granted you have unmarried stenographers. 
Their position, economically, is the same as mine." 

McKann studied the toe of her shoe. " With 
a woman, everything comes back to one thing." 
His manner was judicial. 

She laughed indulgently. " So we are getting 
down to brass tacks, eh? I have beaten you in 
argument, and now you are leading trumps." 

162 



A Gold 



She pot her hands behind her head and her fins 
parted in a half-yawn. " Does everything come 
back to one thing? I wish I knew! It's more 

should have been very fike your stenographers 
if they are good ones. Whatever I was, I would 
have been a good one. I think people are 
nil alike. You are more Afferent than any 
I have met for some time, but I know that there 
are a great many more at home fike you. And 
Vdi yon I believe there is a real ut^tuit 

the trouble of thinker If you and I 

mm 
to a simple and 




Fm neither a coward nor a shirk. 
You would find, if yon had to undertake any en- 

^^^> ^ .-> ^- _ J J __ _, ^ " T" ^ " ^, *.*> ^ _ _ M 

terprtse or Ganger or amenity wi tn a woman, one 
iheic are several auafifications ouite as p'MftaMt 
as the one to which you doubtless refer." 

McRann felt ncnrooshr for his watch-chain. 
" Of course," he brought out, " I am not laymg 
down any generalizations His brows 



" Oh, aren't yon? " umiiumcd Kitty. ' Then 
I totally misunderstood. But remember " hold- 
ing up a finger " it is you, not I, who are afraid 
to pursue this subject further. Now, 111 tell JOB 
She leaned forward and dasped her 
-163- 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

slim, white hands about her velvet knee. " I am 
as much a victim of these ineradicable prejudices 
as you. Your stenographer seems to you a better 
sort. Well, she does to me. Just because her 
life is, presumably, greyer than mine, she seems 
better. My mind tells me that dulness, and a 
mediocre order of ability, and poverty, are not 
in themselves admirable things. Yet in my heart 
I always feel that the sales-women in shops and 
the working girls in factories are more meritorious 
than I. Many of them, with my opportunities, 
would be more selfish than I am. Some of them, 
with their own opportunities, are more selfish. 
Yet I make this sentimental genuflection before 
the nun and the charwoman. Tell me, haven't 
you any weakness? Isn't there any foolish nat- 
ural thing that unbends you a trifle and makes you 
feel gay?" 

" I like to go fishing." 

"To see how many fish you can catch? " 

" No, I like the woods and the weather. I 
like to play a fish and work hard for him. I like 
the pussy-willows and the cold; and the sky, 
whether it's blue or grey night coming on, every 
thing about it." 

He spoke devoutly, and Kitty watched him 

through half-closed eyes. " And you like to feel 

that there are light-minded girls like me, who only 

care about the inside of shops and theatres and 

164 



A Gold Slipper 



hotels, eh ? You amuse me, you and your fish ! 
But I mustn't keep you any longer. Haven't I 
given you every opportunity to state your case 
against me? I thought you would have more to 
say for yourself. Do you know, I believe it's not 
a case you have at all, but a grudge. I believe 
you are envious; that you'd like to be a tenor, and 
a perfect lady-killer ! " She rose, smiling, and 
paused with her hand on the door of her state- 
room. " Anyhow, thank you for a pleasant even- 
ing. And, by the way, dream of me tonight, and 
not of either of those ladies who sat beside you. 
It does not matter much whom we live with in 
this world, but it matters a great deal whom we 
dream of." She noticed his bricky flush. " You 
are very nai'f, after all, but, oh, so cautious ! You 
are naturally afraid of everything new, just as I 
naturally want to try everything : new people, new 
religions new miseries, even. If only there 
were more new things If only you were really 
new ! I might learn something. I'm like the 
Queen of Sheba I'm not above learning. But 
you, my friend, would be afraid to try a new shav- 
ing soap. It isn't gravitation that holds the 
world in place; it's the lazy, obese cowardice of 
the people on it. All the same " taking his 
hand and smiling encouragingly " I'm going to 
haunt you a little. Adios! " 

When Kitty entered her state-room, Celine, in 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

her dressing-gown, was nodding by the window. 

" Mademoiselle found the fat gentleman inter- 
esting? " she asked. " It is nearly one." 

" Negatively interesting. His kind always say 
the same thing. If I could find one really intel- 
ligent man who held his views, I should adopt 
them." 

" Monsieur did not look like an original," mur- 
mured Celine, as she began to take down her lady's 
hair. 

McKann slept heavily, as usual, and the porter 
had to shake him in the morning. He sat up in 
his berth, and, after composing his hair with his 
fingers, began to hunt about for his clothes. As 
he put up the window-blind some bright object 
in the little hammock over his bed caught the sun- 
light and glittered. He stared and picked up a 
delicately turned gold slipper. 

"Minx! hussy!" he ejaculated. " All that 
tall talk ! Probably got it from some man who 
hangs about; learned it off like a parrot. Did she 
poke this in here herself last night, or did she 
send that sneak-faced Frenchwoman? I like her 
nerve ! " He wondered whether he might have 
been breathing audibly when the intruder thrust 
her head between his curtains. He was conscious 
that he did not look a Prince Charming in his 
sleep. He dressed as fast as he could, and, when 
166 



A Gold Slipper 



he was ready to go to the wash-room, glared at 
the slipper. If the porter should start to make 
up his berth in his absence He caught the 
slipper, wrapped it in his pajama jacket, and thrust 
it into his bag. He escaped from the train with- 
out seeing his tormentor again. 

Later McKann threw the slipper into the waste- 
basket in his room at the Knickerbocker, but the 
chambermaid, seeing that it was new and mate- 
less, thought there must be a mistake, and placed 
it in his clothes-closet. He found it there when 
he returned from the theatre that evening. Con- 
siderably mellowed by food and drink and cheerful 
company, he took the slipper in his hand and de- 
cided to keep it as a reminder that absurd things 
could happen to people of the most clocklike de- 
portment. When he got back to Pittsburgh, he 
stuck it in a lock-box in his vault, safe from prying 
clerks. 

McKann has been ill for five years now, poor 
fellow! He still goes to the office, because it is 
the only place that interests him, but his partners 
do most of the work, and his clerks find him sadly 
changed " morbid," they call his state of mind. 
He has had the pine-trees in his yard cut down be- 
cause they remind him of cemeteries. On Sun- 
days or holidays, when the office is empty, and he 
takes his will or his insurance-policies out of his 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

lock-box, he often puts the tarnished gold slipper 
on his desk and looks at it. Somehow it suggests 
life to his tired mind, as his pine-trees suggested 
death life and youth. When he drops over 
some day, his executors will be puzzled by the 
slipper. 

As for Kitty Ayrshire, she has played so many 
'jokes, practical and impractical, since then, that 
she has long ago forgotten the night when she 
threw away a slipper to be a thorn in the side of 
a just man. 



168 



Scandal 

KITTY AYRSHIRE had a cold, a persis- 
tent inflammation of the vocal cords which 
defied the throat specialist. Week after 
week her name was posted at the Opera, and week 
after week it was canceled, and the name of one 
of her rivals was substituted. For nearly two 
months she had been deprived of everything she 
liked, even of the people she liked, and had been 
shut up until she had come to hate the glass win- 
dows between her and the world, and the wintry 
stretch of the Park they looked out upon. She 
was losing a great deal of money, and, what was 
worse, she was losing life; days of which she 
wanted to make the utmost were slipping by, and 
nights which were to have crowned the days, nights 
of incalculable possibilities, were being stolen 
from her by women for whom she had no great 
affection. At first she had been courageous, but 
the strain of prolonged uncertainty was telling on 
her, and her nervous condition did not improve 
her larynx. Every morning Miles Creedon 
looked down her throat, only to put her off with 
evasions, to pronounce improvement that appar- 
169 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

ently never got her anywhere, to say that tomor- 
row he might be able to promise something defi- 
nite. 

Her illness, of course, gave rise to rumours 
rumours that she had lost her voice, that at some 
time last summer she must have lost her discre- 
tion. Kitty herself was frightened by the way in 
which this cold hung on. She had had many sharp 
illnesses in her life, but always, before this, she 
had rallied quickly. Was she beginning to lose 
her resiliency? Was she, by any cursed chance, 
facing a bleak time when she would have to cher- 
ish herself? She protested, as she wandered 
about her sunny, many-windowed rooms on the 
tenth floor, that if she was going to have to live 
frugally, she wouldn't live at all. She wouldn't 
live on any terms but the very generous ones she 
had always known. She wasn't going to hoard 
her vitality. It must be there when she wanted 
it, be ready for any strain she chose to put upon 
it, let her play fast and loose with it; and then, if 
necessary, she would be ill for a while and pay the 
piper. But be systematically prudent and par- 
simonious she would not. 

When she attempted to deliver all this to Doc- 
tor Creedon, he merely put his finger on her lips 
and said they would discuss these things when she 
could talk without injuring her throat. He al- 
lowed her to see no one except the Director of the 
170 



Scandal 



Opera, who did not shine in conversation and was 
not apt to set Kitty going. The Director was a 
glum fellow, indeed, but during this calamitous 
time he had tried to be soothing, and he agreed 
with Creedon that she must not risk a premature 
appearance. Kitty was tormented by a suspicion 
that he was secretly backing the little Spanish 
woman who had sung many of her parts since she 
had been ill. He furthered the girl's interests 
because his wife had a very special consideration 
for her, and Madame had that consideration be- 
cause But that was too long and too dreary 
a story to follow out in one's mind. Kitty felt a 
tonsilitis disgust for opera-house politics, which, 
when she was in health, she rather enjoyed, being 
no mean strategist herself. The worst of being 
ill was that it made so many things and people look 
base. 

She was always afraid of being disillusioned. 
She wished to believe that everything for sale in 
Vanity Fair was worth the advertised price. 
When she ceased to believe in these delights, she 
told herself, her pulling power would decline and 
she would go to pieces. In some way the chill of 
her disillusionment would quiver through the long, 
black line which reached from the box-office down 
to Seventh Avenue on nights when she sang. 
They shivered there in the rain and cold, all those 
people, because they loved to believe in her inex- 
171 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

tinguishable zest. She was no prouder of what 
she drew in the boxes than she was of that long, 
oscillating tail; little fellows in thin coats, Italians, 
Frenchmen, South-Americans, Japanese. 

When she had been cloistered like a Trappist 
for six weeks, with nothing from the outside world 
but notes and flowers and disquieting morning 
papers, Kitty told Miles Creedon that she could 
not endure complete isolation any longer. 

" I simply cannot live through the evenings. 
They have become horrors to me. Every night is 
the last night of a condemned man. I do nothing 
but cry, and that makes my throat worse.' 1 

Miles Creedon, handsomest of his profession, 
was better looking with some invalids than with 
others. His athletic figure, his red cheeks, and 
splendid teeth always had a cheering effect upon 
this particular patient, who hated anything weak 
or broken. 

" What can I do, my dear? What do you 
wish? Shall I come and hold your lovely hand 
from eight to ten? You have only to suggest it." 

" Would you do that, even? No, caro mio, I 
take far too much of your time as it is. For an 
age now you have been the only man in the world 
to me, and you have been charming! But the 
world is big, and I am missing it. Let some one 
come tonight, some one interesting, but not too 
interesting. Pierce Tevis, for instance. He is 
172 



Scandal 



just back from Paris. Tell the nurse I may see 
him for an hour tonight," Kitty finished plead- 
ingly, and put her fingers on the doctor's sleeve. 
He looked down at them and smiled whimsically. 

Like other people, he was weak to Kitty Ayr- 
shire. He would do for her things that he would 
do for no one else ; would break any engagement, 
desert a dinner-table, leaving an empty place and 
an offended hostess, to sit all evening in Kitty's 
dressing-room, spraying her throat and calming 
her nerves, using every expedient to get her 
through a performance. He had studied her 
voice like a singing master; knew all of its idio- 
syncracies and the emotional and nervous pertur- 
bations which affected it. When it was permissi- 
ble, sometimes when it was not permissible, he 
indulged her caprices. On this sunny morning 
her wan, disconsolate face moved him. 

" Yes, you may see Tevis this evening if you 
will assure me that you will not shed one tear for 
twenty-four hours. I may depend on your 
word?" He rose, and stood before the deep 
couch on which his patient reclined. Her arch 
look seemed to say, " On what could you depend 
more?" Creedon smiled, and shook his head. 
" If I find you worse tomorrow " 

He crossed to the writing-table and began to 
separate a bunch of tiny flame-coloured rosebuds. 
" May I?" Selecting one, he sat down on the 

173 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

chair from which he had lately risen, and leaned 
forward while Kitty pinched the thorns from the 
stem and arranged the flower in his buttonhole. 

4 Thank you. I like to wear one of yours. 
Now I must be off to the hospital. I've a nasty 
little operation to do this morning. I'm glad it's 
not you. Shall I telephone Tevis about this eve- 
ning ?" 

Kitty hesitated". Her eyes ran rapidly about, 
seeking a likely pretext. Creedon laughed. 

11 Oh, I see. You've already asked him to 
come. You were so sure of me ! Two hours in 
bed after lunch, with all the windows open, re- 
member. Read something diverting, but not ex- 
citing; some homely British author; nothing aban- 
donne. And don't make faces at me. Until to- 
morrow ! " 

When her charming doctor had disappeared 
through the doorway, Kitty fell back on her cush- 
ions and closed her eyes. Her mocking-bird, ex- 
cited by the sunlight, was singing in his big gilt 
cage, and a white lilac-tree that had come that 
morning was giving out its faint sweetness in the 
warm room. But Kitty looked paler and wearier 
than when the doctor was with her. Even with 
him she rose to her part just a little; couldn't help 
it. And he took his share of her vivacity and 
sparkle, like every one else. He believed that his 
presence was soothing to her. But he admired; 
174 



Scandal 



and whoever admired, blew on the flame, however 
lightly. 

The mocking-bird was in great form this morn- 
ing. He had the best bird-voice she had ever 
heard, and Kitty wished there were some way to 
note down his improvisations; but his intervals 
were not expressible in any scale she knew. 
Parker White had brought him to her, from Ojo 
Caliente, in New Mexico, where he had been 
trained in the pine forests by an old Mexican and 
an ill-tempered, lame master-bird, half thrush, 
that taught young birds to sing. This morning; 
in his song there were flashes of silvery Southern 
springtime; they opened inviting roads of memory. 
In half an hour he had sung his disconsolate mis- 
tress to sleep. 

That evening Kitty sat curled up on the deep 
couch before the fire, awaiting Pierce Tevis. Her 
costume was folds upon folds of diaphanous white 
over equally diaphanous rose, with a line of white 
fur about her neck. Her beautiful arms were 
bare. Her tiny Chinese slippers were embroid- 
ered so richly that they resembled the painted 
porcelain of old vases. She looked like a sultan's 
youngest, newest bride; a beautiful little toy- 
woman, sitting at one end of the long room which 
composed about her, which, in the soft light, 
seemed happily arranged for her. There were 
flowers everywhere: rose-trees; camellia-bushes, 
175 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

red and white; the first forced hyacinths of the 
season; a feathery mimosa-tree, tall enough to 
stand under. 

The long front of Kitty's study was all win- 
dows. At one end was the fireplace, before which 
she sat. At the other end, back in a lighted al- 
cove, hung a big, warm, sympathetic interior by 
Lucien Simon, a group of Kitty's friends having 
tea in the painter's salon in Paris. The room in 
the picture was flooded with early lamp-light, and 
one could feel the grey, chill winter twilight in the 
Paris streets outside. There stood the cavalier- 
like old composer, who had done much for Kitty, 
in his most characteristic attitude, before the 
hearth. Mme. Simon sat at the tea-table. 

B , the historian, and H , the philologist, 

stood in animated discussion behind the piano, 

while Mme. H was tying on the bonnet of 

her lovely little daughter. Marcel Durand, the 
physicist, sat alone in a corner, his startling black- 
and-white profile lowered broodingly, his cold 
hands locked over his sharp knee. A genial, red- 
bearded sculptor stood over him, about to touch 
him on the shoulder and waken him from his 
dream. 

This painting made, as it were, another room; 
so that Kitty's study on Central Park West seemed 
to open into that charming French interior, into 



Scandal 



one of the most highly harmonized and richly as- 
sociated rooms in Paris. There her friends sat 
or stood about, men distinguished, women at once 
plain and beautiful, with their furs and bonnets, 
their clothes that were so distinctly not smart 
all held together by the warm lamp-light, by an 
indescribable atmosphere of graceful and gracious 
human living. 

Pierce Tevis, after he had entered noiselessly 
and greeted Kitty, stood before her fire and looked 
over her shoulder at this picture. 

" It's nice that you have them there together, 
now that they are scattered, God knows where, 
fighting to preserve just that. But your own 
room, too, is charming," he added at last, taking 
his eyes from the canvas. 

Kitty shrugged her shoulders. 

" Bah ! I can help to feed the lamp, but I can't 
supply the dear things it shines upon." 

;t Well, tonight it shines upon you and me, and 
we aren't so bad." Tevis stepped forward and 
took her hand affectionately. " You've been over 
a rough bit of road. I'm so sorry. It's left you 
looking very lovely, though. Has it been very 
hard to get on? " 

She brushed his hand gratefully against her 
cheek and nodded. 

" Awfully dismal. Everything has been shut 
177 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

out from me but gossip. That always gets in. 
Often I don't mind, but this time I have. People 
do tell such lies about me." 

" Of course we do. That's part of our fun, one 
of the many pleasures you give us. It only shows 
how hard up we are for interesting public person- 
ages; for a royal family, for romantic fiction, if 
you will. But I never hear any stories that wound 
me, and I'm very sensitive about you." 

" I'm gossiped about rather more than the 
others, am I not? " 

" I believe ! Heaven send that the day when 
you are not gossiped about is far distant! Do 
you want to bite off your nose to spite your pretty 
face? You are the sort of person who makes 
myths. You can't turn around without making 
one. That's your singular good luck. A whole 
staff of publicity men, working day and night, 
couldn't do for you what you do for yourself. 
There is an affinity between you and the popular 
imagination." 

" I suppose so," said Kitty, and sighed. " All 
the same, I'm getting almost as tired of the per- 
son I'm supposed to be as of the person I really 
am. I wish you would invent a new Kitty Ayr- 
shire for me, Pierce. Can't I do something revo- 
lutionary? Marry, for instance?" 

Tevis rose in alarm. 

" Whatever you do, don't try to change your 



Scandal 



legend. You have now the one that gives the 
greatest satisfaction to the greatest number of 
people. Don't disappoint your public. The pop- 
ular imagination, to which you make such a direct 
appeal, for some reason wished you to have a 
son, so it has given you one. I've heard a dozen 
versions of the story, but it is always a son, never 
by any chance a daughter. Your public gives you 
what is best for you. Let well enough alone." 

Kitty yawned and dropped back on her cush- 
ions. 

" He still persists, does he, in spite of never 
being visible? " 

" Oh, but he has been seen by ever so many 
people. Let me think a moment." He sank into 
an attitude of meditative ease. " The best de- 
scription I ever had of him was from a friend of 
my mother, an elderly woman, thoroughly truth- 
ful and matter-of-fact. She has seen him often. 
He is kept in Russia, in St. Petersburg, that was. 
He is about eight years old and of marvellous 
beauty. He is always that in every version. My 
old friend has seen him being driven in his sledge 
on the Nevskii Prospekt on winter' afternoons; 
black horses with silver bells and a giant in uni- 
form on the seat beside the driver. He is always 
attended by this giant, who is responsible to the 
Grand Duke Paul for the boy. This lady can 
produce no evidence beyond his beauty and his 
179 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

splendid furs and the fact that all the Americans 
in Petrograd know he is your son." 

Kitty laughed mournfully. 

" If the Grand Duke Paul had a son, any old 
rag of a son, the province of Moscow couldn't con- 
tain him! He may, for aught I know, actually 
pretend to have a son. It would be very like 
him." She looked at her finger-tips and her rings 
disapprovingly for a moment. " Do you know, 
Fve been thinking that I would rather like to lay 
hands on that youngster. I believe he'd be inter- 
esting. I'm bored with the world." 

Tevis looked up and said quickly: 

" Would you like him, really? " 

" Of course I should," she said indignantly. 
" But, then, I like other things, too; and one has 
to choose. When one has only two or three things 
to choose from, life is hard; when one has many, 
it is harder still. No, on the whole, I don't mind 
that story. It's rather pretty, except for the 
Grand Duke. But not all of them are pretty." 

' Well, none of them are very ugly; at least I 
never heard but one that troubled me, and that 
was long ago." 

She looked interested. 

"That is what I want to know; how do the 
ugly ones get started? How did that one get 
going and what was it about? Is it too dreadful 
to repeat?" 

180 < 



Scandal 



" No, it's not especially dreadful; merely rather 
shabby. If you really wish to know, and won't 
be vexed, I can tell you exactly how it got going, 
for I took the trouble to find out. But it's a long 
story, and you really had nothing whatever to do 
with it." 

u Then who did have to do with it? Tell me; 
I should like to know exactly how even one of them 
originated." 

" Will you be comfortable and quiet and not 
get into a rage, and let me look at you as much as 
I please?" 

Kitty nodded, and Tevis sat watching her in- 
dolently while he debated how much of his story 
he ought not to tell her. Kitty liked being looked 
at by intelligent persons. She knew exactly how 
good looking she was; and she knew, too, that, 
pretty as she was, some of those rather sallow 
women in the Simon painting had a kind of beauty 
which she would never have. This knowledge, 
Tevis was thinking, this important realization, 
contributed more to her loveliness than any other 
thing about her; more than her smooth, ivory skin 
or her changing grey eyes, the delicate forehead 
above them, or even the dazzling smile, which was 
gradually becoming too bright and too intentional, 
out in the world, at least. Here by her own 
fire she still had for her friends a smile less electric 
than the one she flashed from stages. She could 
181 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

still be, in short, intime, a quality which few artists 
keep, which few ever had. 

Kitty broke in on her friend's meditations. 
* You may smoke. I had rather you did. I 
hate to deprive people of things they like." 

" No, thanks. May I have those chocolates on 
the tea-table? They are quite as bad for me. 
May you? No, I suppose not." He settled him- 
self by the fire, with the candy beside him, and 
began in the agreeable voice which always soothed 
his listener. 

" As I said, it was a long while ago, when you 
first came back to this country and were singing 
at the Manhattan. I dropped in at the Metro- 
politan one evening to hear something new they 
were trying out. It was an off night, no pullers 
in the cast, and nobody in the boxes but gover- 
nesses and poor relations. At the end of the first 
act two people entered one of the boxes in the 
second tier. The man was Siegmund Stein, the 
department-store millionaire, and the girl, so the 
men about me in the omnibus box began to whis- 
per, was Kitty Ayrshire. I didn't know you then, 
but I was unwilling to believe that you were with 
Stein. I could not contradict them at that time, 
however, for the resemblance, if it was merely a 
resemblance, was absolute, and all the world knew 
that you were not singing at the Manhattan that 
night. The girl's hair was dressed just as you 
182 



Scandal 



then wore yours. Moreover, her head was small 
and restless like yours, and she had your colour- 
ing, your eyes, your chin. She carried herself 
with the critical indifference one might expect in 
an artist who had come for a look at a new pro- 
duction that was clearly doomed to failure. She 
applauded lightly. She made comments to Stein 
when comments were natural enough. I thought, 
as I studied her face with the glass, that her nose 
was a trifle thinner than yours, a prettier nose, my 
dear Kitty, but stupider and more inflexible. All 
the same, I was troubled until I saw her laugh, 
and then I knew she was a counterfeit. I had 
never seen you laugh, but I knew that you would 
not laugh like that. It was not boisterous; 
indeed, it was consciously refined, mirthless, 
meaningless. In short, it was not the laugh of 
one whom our friends in there " pointing to the 
Simon painting "would honour with their af- 
fection and admiration." 

Kitty rose on her elbow and burst out indig- 
nantly : 

44 So you would really have been hood-winked 
except for that ! You may be sure that no woman, 
no intelligent woman, would have been. Why do 
we ever take the trouble to look like anything for 
any of you? I could count on my four fingers " 
she held them up and shook them at him 
44 the men I've known who had the least perception 

183 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

of what any woman really looked like, and they 
were all dressmakers. Even painters " glanc- 
ing back in the direction of the Simon picture 
" never get more than one type through their thick 
heads; they try to make all women look like some 
wife or mistress. You are all the same; you 
never see our real faces. What you do see, is 
some cheap conception of prettiness you got from 
a coloured supplement when you were adolescents. 
It's too discouraging. I'd rather take vows and 
veil my face for ever from such abominable eyes. 
In the kingdom of the blind any petticoat is a 
queen." Kitty thumped the cushion with her 
elbow. ' Well, I can't do anything about it. Go 
on with your story." 

" Aren't you furious, Kitty! And I thought I 
was so shrewd. I've quite forgotten where I was. 
Anyhow, I was not the only man fooled. After 
the last curtain I met Villard, the press man of 
that management, in the lobby, and asked him 
whether Kitty Ayrshire was in the house. He 
said he thought so. Stein had telephoned for a 
box, and said he was bringing one of the artists 
from the other company. Villard had been too 
busy about the new production to go to the box, 
but he was quite sure the woman was Ayrshire, 
whom he had met in Paris. 

" Not long after that I met Dan Leland, a class- 
mate of mine, at the Harvard Club. He's a 



Scandal 



journalist, and he used to keep such eccentric hours 
that I had not run across him for a long time. 
We got to talking about modern French music, 
and discovered that we both had a very lively in- 
terest in Kitty Ayrshire. 

" * Could you tell me,' Dan asked abruptly, 
* why, with pretty much all the known world to 
choose her friends from, this young woman should 
flit about with Siegmund Stein? It prejudices 
people against her. He's a most objectionable 
person.' 

4 Have you/ I asked, ' seen her with him, 
yourself? ' 

" Yes, he had seen her driving with Stein, and 
some of the men on his paper had seen her dining 
with him at rather queer places down town. Stein 
was always hanging about the Manhattan on 
nights when Kitty sang. I told Dan that I sus- 
pected a masquerade. That interested him, and 
he said he thought he would look into the matter. 
In short, we both agreed to look into it. Finally, 
we got the story, though Dan could never use it, 
could never even hint at it, because Stein carries 
heavy advertising in his paper. 

" To make you see the point, I must give you a 
little history of Siegmund Stein. Any one who 
has seen him never forgets him. He is one of the 
most hideous men in New York, but it's not at all 
the common sort of ugliness that comes from over- 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

eating and automobiles. He isn't one of the fat 
horrors. He has one of those rigid, horselike 
faces that never tell anything; a long nose, flat- 
tened as if it had been tied down; a scornful chin; 
long, white teeth; flat cheeks, yellow as a Mon- 
golian's; tiny, black eyes, with puffy lids and no 
lashes ; dingy, dead-looking hair looks as if it 
were glued on. 

" Stein came here a beggar from somewhere 
in Austria. He began by working on the ma- 
chines in old Rosenthal's garment factory. He 
became a speeder, a foreman, a salesman; worked 
his way ahead steadily until the hour when he 
rented an old dwelling-house on Seventh Avenue 
and began to make misses' and juniors' coats. I 
believe he was the first manufacturer to specialize 
in those particular articles. Dozens of garment 
manufacturers have come along the same road, but 
Stein is like none of the rest of them. He is, and 
always was, a personality. While he was still at 
the machine, a hideous, underfed little whipper- 
snapper, he was already a youth of many-coloured 
ambitions, deeply concerned about his dress, his 
associates, his recreations. He haunted the old 
Astor Library and the Metropolitan Museum, 
learned something about pictures and porcelains, 
took singing lessons, though he had a voice like a 
crow's. When he sat down to his baked apple 
and doughnut in a basement lunch-room, he would 
186 



Scandal 



prop a book up before him and address his food 
with as much leisure and ceremony as if he were 
dining at his club. He held himself at a distance 
from his fellow-workmen and somehow always 
managed to impress them with his superiority. 
He had inordinate vanity, and there are many 
stories about his foppishness. After his first pro- 
motion in Rosenthal's factory, he bought a new 
overcoat. A few days later, one of the men at 
the machines, which Stein had just quitted, ap- 
peared in a coat exactly like it. Stein could not 
discharge him, but he gave his own coat to a newly 
arrived Russian boy and got another. He was 
already magnificent. 

" After he began to make headway with misses' 
and juniors' cloaks, he became a collector etch- 
ings, china, old musical instruments. He had a 
dancing master, and engaged a beautiful Brazilian 
widow she was said to be a secret agent for 
some South American republic to teach him 
Spanish. He cultivated the society of the un- 
known great; poets, actors, musicians. He enter- 
tained them sumptuously, and they regarded him 
as a deep, mysterious Jew who had the secret of 
gold, which they had not. His business associates 
thought him a man of taste and culture, a patron 
of the arts, a credit to the garment trade. 

" One of Stein's many ambitions was to be 
thought a success with women. He got consid- 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

erable notoriety in the garment world by his at- 
tentions to an emotional actress who is now quite 
forgotten, but who had her little hour of expecta- 
tion. Then there was a dancer; then, just after 
Gorky's visit here, a Russian anarchist woman. 
After that the coat-makers and shirtwaist-makers 
began to whisper that Stein's great success was 
with Kitty Ayrshire. 

14 It is the hardest thing in the world to disprove 
such a story, as Dan Leland and I discovered. 
We managed to worry down the girl's address 
through a taxi-cab driver who got next to Stein's 
chauffeur. She had an apartment in a decent- 
enough house on Waverly Place. Nobody ever 
came to see her but Stein, her sisters, and a little 
Italian girl from whom we got the story. 

' The counterfeit's name was Ruby Mohr. 
She worked in a shirtwaist factory, and this Italian 
girl, Margarita, was her chum. Stein came to the 
factory when he was hunting for living models for 
his new department store. He looked the girls 
over, and picked Ruby out from several hundred. 
He had her call at his office after business hours, 
tried her out in cloaks and evening gowns, and of- 
fered her a position. She never, however, ap- 
peared as a model in the Sixth Avenue store. Her 
likeness to the newly arrived prima donna sug- 
gested to Stein another act in the play he was 
always putting on. He gave two of her sisters 
188 



Scandal 



positions as saleswomen, but Ruby he established 
in an apartment on Waverly Place. 

" To the outside world Stein became more mys- 
terious in his behaviour than ever. He dropped 
his Bohemian friends. No more suppers and 
theatre-parties. Whenever Kitty sang, he was 
in his box at the Manhattan, usually alone, but 
not always. Sometimes he took two or three 
good customers, large buyers from St. Louis or 
Kansas City. His coat factory is still the biggest 
earner of his properties. I've seen him there with 
these buyers, and they carried themselves as if 
they were being let in on something; took posses- 
sion of the box with a proprietory air, smiled and 
applauded and looked wise as if each and every 
one of them were friends of Kitty Ayrshire. 
While they buzzed and trained their field-glasses 
on the prima donna, Stein was impassive and si- 
lent. I don't imagine he even told many lies. 
He is the most insinuating cuss, anyhow. He 
probably dropped his voice or lifted his eyebrows 
when he invited them, and let their own eager 
imaginations do the rest. But what tales they 
took back to their provincial capitals ! 

" Sometimes, before they left New York, they 
were lucky enough to see Kitty dining with their 
clever garment man at some restaurant, her back 
to the curious crowd, her face half concealed by a 
veil or a fur collar. Those people are like chil- 
189 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

dren; nothing that is true or probable interests 
them. They want the old, gaudy lies, told always 
in the same way. Siegmund Stein and Kitty Ayr- 
shire a story like that, once launched, is re- 
peated unchallenged for years among New York 
factory sports. In St. Paul, St. Jo, Sioux City, 
Council Bluffs, there used to be clothing stores 
where a photograph of Kitty Ayrshire hung in the 
fitting-room or over the proprietor's desk. 

" This girl impersonated you successfully to the 
lower manufacturing world of New York for two 
seasons. I doubt if it could have been put across 
anywhere else in the world except in this city, 
which pays you so magnificently and believes of 
you what it likes. Then you went over to the 
Metropolitan, stopped living in hotels, took this 
apartment, and began to know people. Stein dis- 
continued his pantomime at the right moment, 
withdrew his patronage. Ruby, of course, did not 
go back to shirtwaists. A business friend of 
Stein's took her over, and she dropped out of 
sight. Last winter, one cold, snowy night, I saw 
her once again. She was going into a saloon hotel 
with a tough-looking young fellow. She had been 
drinking, she was shabby, and her blue shoes left 
stains in the slush. But she still looked amaz- 
ingly, convincingly like a battered, hardened Kitty 
Ayrshire. As I saw her going up the brass-edged 
stairs, I said to myself " 

190 



Scandal 



" Never mind that." Kitty rose quickly, took 
an impatient step to the hearth, and thrust one 
shining porcelain slipper out to the fire. " The 
girl doesn't interest me. There is nothing I can 
do about her, and of course she never looked like 
me at all. But what did Stein do without me? " 

" Stein? Oh, he chose a new role. He mar- 
ried with great magnificence married a Miss 
Mandelbaum, a California heiress. Her people 
have a line of department stores along the Pacific 
Coast. The Steins now inhabit a great house on 
Fifth Avenue that used to belong to people of a 
very different sort. To old New-Yorkers, it's an 
historic house." 

Kitty laughed, and sat down on the end of her 
couch nearest her guest; sat upright, without cush- 
ions. 

" I imagine I know more about that house than 
you do. Let me tell you how I made the sequel 
to your story. 

" It has to do with Peppo Amoretti. You may 
remember that I brought Peppo to this country, 
and brought him in, too, the year the war broke 
out, when it wasn't easy to get boys who hadn't 
done military service out of Italy. I had taken 
him to Munich to have some singing lessons. 
After the war came on we had to get from Munich 
to Naples in order to sail at all. We were told 
that we could take only hand luggage on the rail- 
191 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

ways, but I took nine trunks and Peppo. I 
dressed Peppo in knickerbockers, made him brush 
his curls down over his ears like doughnuts, and 
carry a little violin-case. It took us eleven days 
to reach Naples. I got my trunks through purely 
by personal persuasion. Once at Naples, I had a 
frightful time getting Peppo on the boat. I de- 
clared him as hand-luggage ; he was so travel-worn 
and so crushed by his absurd appearance that he 
did not look like much else. One inspector had 
a sense of humour, and passed him at that, but the 
other was inflexible. I had to be very dramatic. 
Peppo was frightened, and there is no fight in him, 
anyhow. 

" ' Per me tut to e indiferente, Stgnorina,' he 
kept whimpering. ' Why should I go without it? 
I have lost it/ 

"' Which?' I screamed. 'Not the hat- 
trunk?' 

" ' No, no; mla voce. It is gone since Rav- 
enna.' 

" He thought he had lost his voice somewhere 
along the way. At last I told the inspector that 
I couldn't live without Peppo, and that I would 
throw myself into the bay. I took him into my 
confidence. Of course, when I found I had to 
play on that string, I wished I hadn't made the 
boy such a spectacle. But ridiculous as he was, 
I managed to make the inspector believe that I 
192 



Scandal 



had kidnapped him, and that he was indispensable 
to my happiness. I found that incorruptible offi- 
cial, like most people, willing to aid one so utterly 
depraved. I could never have got that boy out 
for any proper, reasonable purpose, such as giving 
him a job or sending him to school. Well, it's a 
queer world ! But I must cut all that and get to 
the Steins. 

* That first winter Peppo had no chance at the 
Opera. There was an iron ring about him, and 
my interest in him only made it all the more dif- 
ficult. We've become a nest of intrigues down 
there; worse than the Scala. Peppo had to 
scratch along just any way. One evening he came 
to me and said he could get an engagement to sing 
for the grand rich Steins, but the condition was 
that I should sing with him. They would pay, oh, 
anything ! And the fact that I had sung a private 
engagement with him would give him other en- 
gagements of the same sort. As you know, I 
never sing private engagements; but to help the 
boy along, I consented. 

" On the night of the party, Peppo and I went 
to the house together in a taxi. My car was ail- 
ing. At the hour when the music was about to 
begin, the host and hostess appeared at my dres- 
sing-room, up-stairs. Isn't he wonderful? Your 
description was most inadequate. I never en- 
countered such restrained, frozen, sculptured van- 
193 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

ity. My hostess struck me as extremely good 
natured and jolly, though somewhat intimate in 
her manner. Her reassuring pats and smiles puz- 
zled me at the time, I remember, when I didn't 
know that she had anything in particular to be 
large-minded and charitable about. Her husband 
made known his willingness to conduct me to the 
music-room, and we ceremoniously descended a 
staircase blooming like the hanging-gardens of 
Babylon. From there I had my first glimpse of 
the company. They were strange people. The 
women glittered like Christmas-trees. When we 
were half-way down the stairs, the buzz of con- 
versation stopped so suddenly that some foolish 
remark I happened to be making rang out like 
oratory. Every face was lifted toward us. My 
host and I completed our descent and went the 
length of the drawing-room through a silence 
which somewhat awed me. I couldn't help wish- 
ing that one could ever get that kind of attention 
in a concert-hall. In the music-room Stein insisted 
upon arranging things for me. I must say that 
he was neither awkward nor stupid, not so 
wooden as most rich men who rent singers. I 
was properly affable. One has, under such cir- 
cumstances, to be either gracious or pouty. 
Either you have to stand and sulk, like an old- 
fashioned German singer who wants the piano 
moved about for her like a tea-wagon, and the 
194 



Scandal 



lights turned up and the lights turned down, or 
you have to be a trifle forced, like a debutante 
trying to make good. The fixed attention of my 
audience affected me. I was aware of unusual in- 
terest, of a thoroughly enlisted public. When, 
however, my host at last left me, I felt the tension 
relax to such an extent that I wondered whether 
by any chance he, and not I, was the object of so 
much curiosity. But, at any rate, their cordiality 
pleased me so well that after Peppo and I had 
finished our numbers I sang an encore or two, and 
I stayed through Peppo's performance because I 
felt that they liked to look at me. 

" I had asked not to be presented to people, but 
Mrs. Stein, of course, brought up a few friends. 
The throng began closing in upon me, glowing 
faces bore down from every direction, and I re- 
alized that, among people of such unscrupulous 
cordiality, I must look out for myself. I ran 
through the drawing-room and fled up the stair- 
way, which was thronged with Old Testament 
characters. As I passed them, they all looked 
at me with delighted, cherishing eyes, as if I had 
at last come back to my native hamlet. At the top 
of the stairway a young man, who looked like a 
camel with its hair parted on the side, stopped me, 
seized my hands and said he must present himself, 
as he was such an old friend of Siegmund's bach- 
elor days. I said, * Yes, how interesting! ' The, 
195 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

atmosphere was somehow so thick and personal 
that I felt uncomfortable. 

" When I reached my dressing-room Mrs. Stein 
followed me to say that I would, of course, come 
down to supper, as a special table had been pre- 
pared for me. I replied that it was not my cus- 
tom. 

" ' But here it is different. With us you must 
feel perfect freedom. Siegmund will never for- 
give me if you do not stay. After supper our car 
will take you home.' She was overpowering. 
She had the manner of an intimate and indulgent 
friend of long standing. She seemed to have 
come to make me a visit. I could only get rid of 
her by telling her that I must see Peppo at once, 
if she would be good enough to send him to me. 
She did not come back, and I began to fear that 
I would actually be dragged down to supper. It 
was as if I had been kidnapped. I felt like Gul- 
liver among the giants. These people were all 
too well, too much what they were. No chill 
of manner could hold them off. I was defence- 
less. I must get away. I ran to the top of the 
staircase and looked down. There was that fool 
Peppo, beleaguered by a bevy of fair women. 
They were simply looting him, and he was grin- 
ning like an idiot. I gathered up my train, ran 
down, and made a dash at him, yanked him out of 
that circle of rich contours, and dragged him by 
196 



Scandal 



a limp cuff up the stairs after me. I told him that 
I must escape from that house at once. If he 
could get to the telephone, well and good; but if 
he couldn't get past so many deep-breathing ladies, 
then he must break out of the front door and hunt 
me a cab on foot. I felt as if I were about to be 
immured within a harem. 

" He had scarcely dashed off when the host 
called my name several times outside the door. 
Then he knocked and walked in, uninvited. I told 
him that I would be inflexible about supper. He 
must make my excuses to his charming friends; 
any pretext he chose. He did not insist. He 
took up his stand by the fireplace and began to 
talk; said rather intelligent things. I did not 
drive him out; it was his own house, and he made 
himself agreeable. After a time a deputation of 
his friends came down the hall, somewhat boister- 
ously, to say that supper could not be served until 
we came down. Stein was still standing by the 
mantel, I remember. He scattered them, with- 
out moving or speaking to them, by a portentous 
look. There is something hideously forceful 
about him. He took a very profound leave of 
me, and said he would order his car at once. In 
a moment Peppo arrived, splashed to the ankles, 
and we made our escape together. 

" A week later Peppo came to me in a rage, 
with a paper called The American Gentleman, 
197 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

and showed me a page devoted to three photo- 
graphs: Mr. and Mrs. Siegmund Stein, lately 
married in New York City, and Kitty Ayrshire, 
operatic soprano, who sang at their house-warm- 
ing. Mrs. Stein and I were grinning our best, 
looked frantic with delight, and Siegmund 
frowned inscrutably between us. Poor Peppo 
wasn't mentioned. Stein has a publicity sense." 

Tevis rose. 

" And you have enormous publicity value and 
no discretion. It was just like you to fall for 
such a plot, Kitty. You'd be sure to." 

"What's the use of discretion?" She mur- 
mured behind her hand. " If the Steins want to 
adopt you into their family circle, they'll get you 
in the end. That's why I don't feel compassionate 
about your Ruby. She and I are in the same boat. 
We are both the victims of circumstance, and in 
New York so many of the circumstances arc 
Steins." 



198 



Paul's Case 

IT was Paul's afternoon to appear before the 
faculty of the Pittsburgh High School to ac- 
count for his various misdemeanours. He 
had been suspended a week ago, and his father 
had called at the Principal's office and confessed 
his perplexity about his son. Paul entered the 
faculty room suave and smiling. His clothes 
were a trifle out-grown, and the tan velvet on the 
collar of his open overcoat was frayed and worn; 
but for all that there was something of the dandy 
about him, and he wore an opal pin in his neatly 
knotted black four-in-hand, and a red carnation in 
his button-hole. This latter adornment the 
faculty somehow felt was not properly significant 
of the contrite spirit befitting a boy under the ban 
of suspension. 

Paul was tall for his age and very thin, with 
high, cramped shoulders and a narrow chest. 
His eyes were remarkable for a certain hysterical 
brilliancy, and he continually used them in a con- 
scious, theatrical sort of way, peculiarly offen- 
sive in a boy. The pupils were abnormally large, 
as though he were addicted to belladonna, but 
199 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

there was a glassy glitter about them which that 
drug does not produce. 

When questioned by the Principal as to why 
he was there, Paul stated, politely enough, that 
he wanted to come back to school. This was a lie, 
but Paul was quite accustomed to lying; found 
it, indeed, indispensable for overcoming friction. 
His teachers were asked to state their respective 
charges against him, which they did with such a 
rancour and aggrievedness as evinced that this 
was not a usual case. Disorder and impertinence 
were among the offences named, yet each of his 
instructors felt that it was scarcely possible to 
put into words the real cause of the trouble, 
which lay in a sort of hysterically defiant manner 
of the boy's; in the contempt which they all knew 
he felt for them, and which he seemingly made 
not the least effort to conceal. Once, when he 
had been making a synopsis of a paragraph at the 
blackboard, his English teacher had stepped to 
his side and attempted to guide his hand. Paul 
had started back with a shudder and thrust his 
hands violently behind him. The astonished 
woman could scarcely have been more hurt and 
embarrassed had he struck at her. The insult 
was so involuntary and definitely personal as to 
be unforgettable. In one way and another, he 
had made all his teachers, men and women alike, 
conscious of the same feeling of physical aver- 
200 



Paul's Case 



sion. In one class he habitually sat with his hand 
shading Ms eyes; in another he always looked 
out of the window during the recitation; in an- 
other he made a running commentary on the lec- 
ture, with humorous intent. 

His teachers felt this afternoon that his whole 
attitude was symbolized by his shrug and his 
flippantly red carnation flower, and they fell upon 
him without mercy, his English teacher leading 
the pack. He stood through it smiling, his pale 
lips parted over his white teeth. (His lips were 
continually twitching, and he had a habit of rais- 
ing his eyebrows that was contemptuous and ir- 
ritating to the last degree.) Older boys than 
Paul had broken down and shed tears under that 
ordeal, but his set smile did not once desert him, 
and his only sign of discomfort was the nervous 
trembling of the fingers that toyed with the but- 
tons of his overcoat, and an occasional jerking of 
the other hand which held his hat. Paul was al- 
ways smiling, always glancing about him, seeming 
to feel that people might be watching him and try- 
ing to detect something. This conscious expres- 
sion, since it was as far as possible from boyish 
mirthfulness, was usually attributed to insolence 
or " smartness." 

As the inquisition proceeded, one of his in- 
structors repeated an impertinent remark of the 
boy's, and the Principal asked him whether he 
201 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

thought that a courteous speech to make to a 
woman. Paul shrugged his shoulders slightly and 
his eyebrows twitched. 

" I don't know," he replied. " I didn't mean to 
be polite or impolite, either. I guess it's a sort of 
way I have, of saying things regardless." 

The Principal asked him whether he didn't 
think that a way it would be well to get rid of. 
Paul grinned and said he guessed so. When he 
was told that he could go, he bowed gracefully 
and went out. His bow was like a repetition of 
the scandalous red carnation. 

His teachers were in despair, and his drawing 
master voiced the feeling of them all when he de- 
clared there was something about the boy which 
none of them understood. He added: " I don't 
really believe that smile of his comes altogether 
from insolence; there's something sort of haunted 
about it. The boy is not strong, for one thing. 
There is something wrong about the fellow." 

The drawing master had come to realize that, 
in looking at Paul, one saw only his white teeth 
and the forced animation of his eyes. One warm 
afternoon the boy had gone to sleep at his draw- 
ing-board, and his master had noted with amaze- 
ment what a white, blue-veined face it was; 
drawn and wrinkled like an old man's about the 
eyes, the lips twitching even in his sleep. 

His teachers left the building dissatisfied and 
202 



Paul's Case 



unhappy; humiliated to have felt so vindictive 
toward a mere boy, to have uttered this feeling 
in cutting terms, and to have set each other on, 
as it were, in the grewsome game of intemperate 
reproach. One of them remembered having seen 
a miserable street cat set at bay by a ring of tor- 
mentors. 

As for Paul, he ran down the hill whistling the 
Soldiers' Chorus from Faust, looking wildly be- 
hind him now and then to see whether some of 
his teachers were not there to witness his light- 
heartedness. As it was now late in the afternoon 
and Paul was on duty that evening as usher at 
Carnegie Hall, he decided that he would not go 
home to supper. 

When he reached the concert hall the doors 
were not yet open. It was chilly outside, and he 
decided to go up into the picture gallery always 
deserted at this hour - where there were some of 
Raffelli's gay studies of Paris streets and an airy 
blue Venetian scene or two that always exhilarated 
him. He was delighted to find no one in the 
gallery but the old guard, who sat in the corner, 
a newspaper on his knee, a black patch over one 
eye and the other closed. Paul possessed himself 
of the place and walked confidently up and down, 
whistling under his breath. After a while he sat 
down before a blue Rico and lost himself. When 
he bethought him to look at his watch, it was after 
203 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

seven o'clock, and he rose with a start and ran 
downstairs, making a face at Augustus Caesar, 
peering out from the cast-room, and an evil ges- 
ture at the Venus of Milo as he passed her on 
the stairway. 

When Paul reached the ushers' dressing-room 
half-a-dozen boys were there already, and he be- 
gan excitedly to tumble into his uniform. It was 
one of the few that at all approached fitting, and 
Paul thought it very becoming though he knew 
the tight, straight coat accentuated his narrow 
chest, about which he was exceedingly sensitive. 
He was always excited while he dressed, twanging 
all over to the tuning of the strings and the pre- 
liminary flourishes of the horns in the music- 
room; but tonight he seemed quite beside himself, 
and he teased and plagued the boys until, telling 
him that he was crazy, they put him down on the 
floor and sat on him. 

Somewhat calmed by his suppression, Paul 
dashed out to the front of the house to seat the 
early comers. He was a model usher. Gracious 
and smiling he ran up and down the aisles. Noth- 
ing was too much trouble for him; he carried 
messages and brought programs as though 
it were his greatest pleasure in life, and all the 
people in his section thought him a charming 
boy, feeling that he remembered and admired 
them. As the house filled, he grew more and more 
204 



Paul's Case 



vivacious and animated, and the colour came to 
his cheeks and lips. It was very much as though 
this were a great reception and Paul were the 
host. Just as the musicians came out to take 
their places, his English teacher arrived with 
checks for the seats which a prominent manu- 
facturer had taken for the season. She betrayed 
some embarrassment when she handed Paul the 
tickets, and a hauteur which subsequently made 
her feel very foolish. Paul was startled for a mo- 
ment, and had the feeling of wanting to put her 
out; what business had she here among all these 
fine people and gay colours ? He looked her over 
and decided that she was not appropriately 
dressed and must be a fool to sit downstairs in 
such togs. The tickets had probably been sent 
her out of kindness, he reflected, as he put down 
a seat for her, and she had about as much right 
to sit there as he had. 

When the symphony began Paul sank into one 
of the rear seats with a long sigh of relief, and 
lost himself as he had done before the Rico. It 
was not that symphonies, as such, meant any- 
thing in particular to Paul, but the first sigh of the 
instruments seemed to free some hilarious spirit 
within him; something that struggled there like 
the Genius in the bottle found by the Arab fish- 
erman. He felt a sudden zest of life; the lights 
danced before his eyes and the concert hall blazed 
205 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

into unimaginable splendour. When the soprano 
soloist came on, Paul forgot even the nastiness 
of his teacher's being there, and gave himself up 
to the peculiar intoxication such personages al- 
ways had for him. The soloist chanced to be a 
German woman, by no means in her first youth, 
and the mother of many children; but she wore a 
satin gown and a tiara, and she had that inde- 
finable air of achievement, that world-shine upon 
her, which always blinded Paul to any possible 
defects. 

After a concert was over, Paul was often ir- 
ritable and wretched until he got to sleep, and 
tonight he was even more than usually restless. 
He had the feeling of not being able to let down; 
of its being impossible to give up this delicious 
excitement which was the only thing that could 
be called living at all. During the last number he 
withdrew and, after hastily changing his clothes 
in the dressing-room, slipped out to the side door 
where the singer's carriage stood. Here he be- 
gan pacing rapidly up and down the walk, wait- 
ing to see her come out. 

Over yonder the Schenley, in its vacant stretch, 
loomed big and square through the fine rain, the 
windows of its twelve stories glowing like those 
of a lighted card-board house under a Christmas 
tree. All the actors and singers of any impor- 
tance stayed there when they were in the city, 
206 



Paul's Case 



and a number of the big manufacturers of the 
place lived there in the winter. Paul had often 
hung about the hotel, watching the people go in 
and out, longing to enter and leave school-masters 
and dull care behind him for ever. 

At last the singer came out, accompanied by 
the conductor, who helped her into her carriage 
and closed the door with a cordial auf wiedersehen, 
which set Paul to wondering whether she were 
not an old sweetheart of his. Paul followed the 
carriage over to the hotel, walking so rapidly as 
not to be far from the entrance when the singer 
alighted and disappeared behind the swinging 
glass doors which were opened by a negro in a tall 
hat and a long coat. In the moment that the door 
was ajar, it seemed to Paul that he, too, entered. 
He seemed to feel himself go after her up the 
steps, into the warm, lighted building, into an 
exotic, a tropical world of shiny, glistening sur- 
faces and basking ease. He reflected upon the 
mysterious dishes that were brought into the 
dining-room, the green bottles in buckets of ice, 
as he had seen them in the supper party pictures 
of the Sunday supplement. A quick gust of wind 
brought the rain down with sudden vehemence, 
and Paul was startled to find that he was still 
outside in the slush of the gravel driveway; that 
his boots were letting in the water and his scanty 
overcoat was clinging wet about him; that the 
207 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

lights in front of the concert hall were out, and 
that the rain was driving in sheets between him 
and the orange glow of the windows above him. 
There it was, what he wanted tangibly before 
him, like the fairy world of a Christmas panto- 
mime; as the rain beat in his face, Paul wondered 
whether he were destined always to shiver in the 
black night outside, looking up at it. 

He turned and walked reluctantly toward the 
car tracks. The end had to come sometime; his 
father in his night-clothes at the top of the stairs, 
explanations that did not explain, hastily im- 
provised fictions that were forever tripping him 
up, his upstairs room and its horrible yellow wall- 
paper, the creaking bureau with the greasy plush 
collar-box, and over his painted wooden bed the 
pictures of George Washington and John Calvin, 
and the framed motto, " Feed my Lambs," which 
had been worked in red worsted by his mother, 
whom Paul could not remember. 

Half an hour later, Paul alighted from the 
Negley Avenue car and went slowly down one of 
the side streets off the main thoroughfare. It 
was a highly respectable street, where all the 
houses were exactly alike, and where business men 
of moderate means begot and reared large fam- 
ilies of children, all of whom went to Sabbath- 
school and learned the shorter catechism, and were 
interested in arithmetic; all of whom were as ex- 
208 



Paul's Case 



actly alike as their homes, and of a piece with the 
monotony in which they lived. Paul never went 
up Cordelia Street without a shudder of loathing. 
His home was next the house of the Cumberland 
minister. He approached it tonight with the 
nerveless sense of defeat, the hopeless feeling of 
sinking back forever into ugliness and common- 
ness that he had always had when he came home. 
The moment he turned into Cordelia Street he felt 
the waters close above his head. After each of 
these orgies of living, he experienced all the physi- 
cal depression which follows a debauch ; the loath- 
ing of respectable beds, of common food, of a 
house permeated by kitchen odours; a shuddering 
repulsion for the flavourless, colourless mass of 
every-day existence; a morbid desire for cool 
things and soft lights and fresh flowers. 

The nearer he approached the house, the more 
absolutely unequal Paul felt to the sight of it all; 
his ugly sleeping chamber; the cold bath-room 
with the grimy zinc tub, the cracked mirror, the 
dripping spiggots; his father, at the top of the 
stairs, his hairy legs sticking out from his night- 
shirt, his feet thrust into carpet slippers. He was 
so much later than usual that there would cer- 
tainly be inquiries and reproaches. Paul stopped 
short before the door. He felt that he could not 
be accosted by his father tonight; that he could 
not toss again on that miserable bed. He would 
. 209 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

not go in. He would tell his father that he had 
no car fare, and it was raining so hard he had gone 
home with one of the boys and stayed all night. 

Meanwhile, he was wet and cold. He went 
around to the back of the house and tried one of 
the basement windows, found it open, raised it 
cautiously, and scrambled down the cellar wall 
to the floor.. There he stood, holding his breath, 
terrified by the noise he had made; but the floor 
above him was silent, and there was no creak on 
the stairs. He found a soap-box, and carried it 
over to the soft ring of light that streamed from 
the furnace door, and sat down. He was horribly 
afraid of rats, so he did not try to sleep, but sat 
looking distrustfully at the dark, still terrified 
lest he might have awakened his father. In such 
reactions, after one of the experiences which made 
days and nights out of the dreary blanks of the 
calendar, when his senses were deadened, Paul's 
head was always singularly clear. Suppose his 
father had heard him getting in at the window 
and had come down and shot him for a burglar? 
Then, again, suppose his father had come down, 
pistol in hand, and he had cried out in time to save 
himself, and his father had been horrified to think 
how nearly he had killed him? Then, again, sup- 
pose a day should come when his father would re- 
member that night, and wish there had been no 
warning cry to stay his hand? With this last 
210 



Paul's Case 



supposition Paul entertained himself until day- 
break. 

The following Sunday was fine; the sodden 
November chill was broken by the last flash of 
autumnal summer. In the morning Paul had to 
go to church and Sabbath-school, as always. On 
seasonable Sunday afternoons the burghers of 
Cordelia Street usually sat out on their front 
" stoops/' and talked to their neighbours on the 
next stoop, or called to those across the street in 
neighbourly fashion. The men sat placidly on 
gay cushions placed upon the steps that led down 
to the sidewalk, while the women, in their Sun- 
day " waists," sat in rockers on the cramped 
porches, pretending to be greatly at their ease. 
The children played in the streets; there were so 
many of them that the place resembled the recre- 
ation grounds of a kindergarten. The men on 
the steps all in their shirt sleeves, their vests 
unbuttoned sat with their legs well apart, 
their stomachs comfortably protruding, and talked 
of the prices of things, or told anecdotes of the 
sagacity of their various chiefs and overlords. 
They occasionally looked over the multitude of 
squabbling children, listened affectionately to their 
high-pitched, nasal voices, smiling to see their own 
proclivities reproduced in their offspring, and in- 
terspersed their legends of the iron kings with 
remarks about their sons' progress at school, their 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

grades in arithmetic, and the amounts they had 
saved in their toy banks. 

On this last Sunday of November, Paul sat all 
the afternoon on the lowest step of his " stoop," 
staring into the street, while his sisters, in their 
rockers, were talking to the minister's daughters 
next door about how many shirt-waists they had 
made in the last week, and how many waffles some 
one had eaten at the last church supper. When 
the weather was warm, and his father was in a 
particularly jovial frame of mind, the girls made 
lemonade, which was always brought out in a 
red-glass pitcher, ornamented with forget-me- 
nots in blue enamel. This the girls thought very 
fine, and the neighbours joked about the suspicious 
colour of the pitcher. 

Today Paul's father, on the top step, was talk- 
ing to a young man who shifted a restless baby 
from knee to knee. He happened to be the young 
man who was daily held up to Paul as a model, 
and after whom it was his father's dearest hope 
that he would pattern. This young man was of 
a ruddy complexion, with a compressed, red 
mouth, and faded, near-sighted eyes, over which 
he wore thick spectacles, with gold bows that 
curved about his ears. He was clerk to one of 
the magnates of a great steel corporation, and 
was looked upon in Cordelia Street as a young 
man with a future. There was a story that, some 
212 



Paul's Case 



five years ago he was now barely twenty-six 
he had been a trifle ' dissipated,' but in order to 
curb his appetites and save the loss of time and 
strength that a sowing of wild oats might have 
entailed, he had taken his chiefs advice, oft re- 
iterated to his employes, and at twenty-one had 
married the first woman whom he could persuade 
to share his fortunes. She happened to be an 
angular school-mistress, much older than he, who 
also wore thick glasses, and who had now borne 
him four children, all near-sighted, like herself. 

The young man was relating how his chief, 
now cruising in the Mediterranean, kept in touch 
with all the details of the business, arranging his 
office hours on his yacht just as though he were 
at home, and " knocking off work enough to keep 
two stenographers busy." His father told, in 
turn, the plan his corporation was considering, of 
putting in an electric railway plant at Cairo. 
Paul snapped his teeth; he had an awful appre- 
hension that they might spoil it all before he got 
there. Yet he rather liked to hear these legends 
of the iron kings, that were told and retold on Sun- 
days and holidays; these stories of palaces in 
Venice, yachts on the Mediterranean, and high 
play at Monte Carlo appealed to his fancy, and 
he was interested in the triumphs of cash boys 
who had become famous, though he had no mind 
for the cash-boy stage. 

213 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

After supper was over, and he had helped to 
dry the dishes, Paul nervously asked his father 
whether he could go to George's to get some help 
in his geometry, and still more nervously asked 
for car-fare. This latter request he had to repeat, 
as his father, on principle, did not like to hear 
requests for money, whether much or little. He 
asked Paul whether he could not go to some boy 
who lived nearer, and told him that he ought not 
to leave his school work until Sunday; but he 
gave him the dime. He was not a poor man, but 
he had a worthy ambition to come up in the 
world. His only reason for allowing Paul to 
usher was that he thought a boy ought to be earn- 
ing a little. 

Paul bounded upstairs, scrubbed the greasy 
odour of the dish-water from his hands with the 
ill-smelling soap he hated, and then shook over 
his fingers a few drops of violet water from the 
bottle he kept hidden in his drawer. He left the 
house with his geometry conspicuously under his 
arm, and the moment he got out of Cordelia 
Street and boarded a downtown car, he shook off 
the lethargy of two deadening days, and began 
to live again. 

The leading juvenile of the permanent stock 

company which played at one of the downtown 

theatres was an acquaintance of Paul's, and the 

boy had been invited to drop in at the Sunday- 

214 



PauVs Case 



night rehearsals whenever he could. For more 
than a year Paul had spent every available mo- 
ment loitering about Charley Edwards's dressing- 
room. He had won a place among Edwards's 
following not only because the young actor, who 
could not afford to employ a dresser, often found 
him useful, but because he recognized in Paul 
something akin to what churchmen term " voca- 



tion." 



It was at the theatre and at Carnegie Hall 
that Paul really lived; the rest was but a sleep 
and a forgetting. This was Paul's fairy tale, and 
it had for him all the allurement of a secret love. 
The moment he inhaled the gassy, painty, dusty 
odour behind the scenes, he breathed like a pris- 
oner set free, and felt within him the possibility 
of doing or saying splendid, brilliant things. The 
moment the cracked orchestra beat out the over- 
ture from Martha, or jerked at the serenade from 
Rigoletto, all stupid and ugly things slid from him, 
and his senses were deliciously, yet delicately 
fired. 

Perhaps it was because, in Paul's world, the 
natural nearly always wore the guise of ugliness, 
that a certain element of artificiality seemed to 
him necessary in beauty. Perhaps it was because 
his experience of life elsewhere was so full of Sab- 
bath-school picnics, petty economies, wholesome 
advice as to how to succeed in life, and the un- 
215 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

escapable odours of cooking, that he found this 
existence so alluring, these smartly-clad men and 
women so attractive, that he was so moved by 
these starry apple orchards that bloomed peren- 
nially under the lime-light. 

It would be difficult to put it strongly enough 
how convincingly the stage entrance of that the- 
atre was for Paul the actual portal of Romance. 
Certainly none of the company ever suspected it, 
least of all Charley Edwards. It was very like 
the old stories that used to float about London 
of fabulously rich Jews, who had subterranean 
halls, with palms, and fountains, and soft lamps 
and richly apparelled women who never saw the 
disenchanting light of London day. So, in the 
midst of that smoke-palled city, enamoured of 
figures and grimy toil, Paul had his secret tem- 
ple, his wishing-carpet, his bit of blue-and-white 
Mediterranean shore bathed in perpetual sunshine. 

Several of Paul's teachers had a theory that his 
imagination had been perverted by garish fiction; 
but the truth was, he scarcely ever read at all. 
The books at home were not such as would either 
tempt or corrupt a youthful mind, and as for 
reading the novels that some of his friends urged 
upon him well, he got what he wanted much 
more quickly from music ; any sort of music, from 
an orchestra to a barrel organ. He needed only 
the spark, the indescribable thrill that made his 
216 



Paul's Case 



imagination master of his senses, and he could 
make plots and pictures enough of his own. It 
was equally true that he was not stage-struck 
not, at any rate, in the usual acceptation of that 
expression. He had no desire to become an actor, 
any more than he had to become a musician. He 
felt no necessity to do any of these things; what 
he wanted was to see, to be in the atmosphere, 
float on the wave of it, to be carried out, blue 
league after blue league, away from everything. 

After a night behind the scenes, Paul found 
the school-room more than ever repulsive; the 
bare floors and naked walls; the prosy men who 
never wore frock coats, or violets in their button- 
holes; the women with their dull gowns, shrill 
voices, and pitiful seriousness about prepositions 
that govern the dative. He could not bear to 
have the other pupils think, for a moment, that he 
took these people seriously; he must convey to 
them that he considered it all trivial, and was 
there only by way of a joke, anyway. He had 
autograph pictures of all the members of the stock 
company which he showed his classmates, telling 
them the most incredible stories of his familiarity 
with these people, of his acquaintance with the 
soloists who came to Carnegie Hall, his suppers 
with them and the flowers he sent them. When 
these stories lost their effect, and his audience 
grew listless, he would bid all the boys good-bye, 
217 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

announcing that he was going to travel for awhile ; 
going to Naples, to California, to Egypt. Then, 
next Monday, he would slip back, conscious and 
nervously smiling; his sister was ill, and he would 
have to defer his voyage until spring. 

Matters went steadily worse with Paul at 
school. In the itch to let his instructors know how 
heartily he despised them, and how thoroughly 
he was appreciated elsewhere, he mentioned once 
or twice that he had no time to fool with the- 
orems ; adding with a twitch of the eyebrows 
and a touch of that nervous bravado which so 
perplexed them that he was helping the people 
down at the stock company ; they were old friends 
of his. 

The upshot of the matter was, that the Princi- 
pal went to Paul's father, and Paul was taken 
out of school and put to work. The manager at 
Carnegie Hall was told to get another usher in 
his stead; the doorkeeper at the theatre was 
warned not to admit him to the house ; and Charley 
Edwards remorsefully promised the boy's father 
not to see him again. 

The members of the stock company were vastly 
amused when some of Paul's stories reached them 
especially the women. They were hard-work- 
ing women, most of them supporting indolent hus- 
bands or brothers, and they laughed rather bit- 
terly at having stirred the boy to such fervid and 
218 



Paul's Case 



florid inventions. They agreed with the faculty 
and with his father, that Paul's was a bad case. 

The east-bound train was ploughing through a 
January snow-storm; the dull dawn was beginning 
to show grey when the engine whistled a mile 
out of Newark. Paul started up from the seat 
where he had lain curled in uneasy slumber, rubbed 
the breath-misted window glass with his hand, 
and peered out. The snow was whirling in curl- 
ing eddies above the white bottom lands, and the 
drifts lay already deep in the fields and along 
the fences, while here and there the long dead 
grass and dried weed stalks protruded black above 
it. Lights shone from the scattered houses, and 
a gang of labourers who stood beside the track 
waved their lanterns. 

Paul had slept very little, and he felt grimy and 
uncomfortable. He had made the all-night jour- 
ney in a day coach because he was afraid if he took 
a Pullman he might be seen by some Pittsburgh 
business man who had noticed him in Denny & 
Carson's office. When the whistle woke him, he 
clutched quickly at his breast pocket, glancing 
about him with an uncertain smile. But the little, 
clay-bespattered Italians were still sleeping, the 
slatternly women across the aisle were in open- 
mouthed oblivion, and even the crumby, crying 
babies were for the nonce stilled. Paul settled 
219 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

back to struggle with his impatience as best he 
could. 

When he arrived at the Jersey City station, 
he hurried through his breakfast, manifestly ill at 
ease and keeping a sharp eye about him. After 
he reached the Twenty-third Street station, he 
consulted a cabman, and had himself driven to a 
men's furnishing establishment which was just 
opening for the day. He spent upward of two 
hours there, buying with endless reconsidering 
and great care. His new street suit he put on in 
the fitting-room; the frock coat and dress clothes 
he had bundled into the cab with his new shirts. 
Then he drove to a hatter's and a shoe house. 
His next errand was at Tiffany's, where he se- 
lected silver mounted brushes and a scarf-pin. 
He would not wait to have his silver marked, he 
said. Lastly, he stopped at a trunk shop on 
Broadway, and had his purchases packed into va- 
rious travelling bags. 

It was a little after one o'clock when he drove 
up to the Waldorf, and, after settling with the 
cabman, went into the office. He registered from 
Washington; said his mother and father had been 
abroad, and that he had come down to await the 
arrival of their steamer. He told his story 
plausibly and had no trouble, since he offered to 
pay for them in advance, in engaging his rooms; 
a sleeping-room, sitting-room and bath. 
220 



Paul's Case 



Not once, but a hundred times Paul had 
planned this entry into New York. He had gone 
over every detail of it with Charley Edwards, and 
in his scrap book at home there were pages of de- 
scription about New York hotels, cut from the 
Sunday papers. 

When he was shown to his sitting-room on the 
eighth floor, he saw at a glance that everything 
was as it should be; there was but one detail in 
his mental picture that the place did not realize, 
so he rang for the bell boy and sent him down for 
flowers. He moved about nervously until the 
boy returned, putting away his new linen and fin- 
gering it delightedly as he did so. When the 
flowers came, he put them hastily into water, and 
then tumbled into a hot bath. Presently he came 
out of his white bath-room, resplendent in his new 
silk underwear, and playing with the tassels of his 
red robe. The snow was whirling so fiercely out- 
side his windows that he could scarcely see across 
the street; but within, the air was deliciously soft 
and fragrant. He put the violets and jonquils 
on the tabouret beside the couch, and threw himself 
down with a long sigh, covering himself with a 
Roman blanket. He was thoroughly tired; he 
had been in such haste, he had stood up to such 
a strain, covered so much ground in the last 
twenty-four hours, that he wanted to think how 
it had all come about. Lulled by the sound of the 
. 221 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

wind, the warm air, and the cool fragrance of the 
flowers, he sank into deep, drowsy retrospection. 

It had been wonderfully simple ; when they had 
shut him out of the theatre and concert hall, 
when they had taken away his bone, the whole 
thing was virtually determined. The rest was a 
mere matter of opportunity. The only thing that 
at all surprised him was his own courage for he 
realized well enough that he had always been tor- 
mented by fear, a sort of apprehensive dread that, 
of late years, as the meshes of the lies he had 
told closed about him, had been pulling the mus- 
cles of his body tighter and tighter. Until now, 
he could not remember a time when he had not 
been dreading something. Even when he was a 
little boy, it was always there behind him, or 
before, or on either side. There had always been 
the shadowed corner, the dark place into which 
he dared not look, but from which something 
seemed always to be watching him and Paul 
had done things that were not pretty to watch, he 
knew. 

But now he had a curious sense of relief, as 
though he had at last thrown down the gauntlet 
to the thing in the corner. 

Yet it was but a day since he had been sulking 
in the traces; but yesterday afternoon that he had 
been sent to the bank with Denny & Carson's de- 
posit, as usual but this time he was instructed 
222 



Paul's Case 



to leave the book to be balanced. There was 
above two thousand dollars in checks, and nearly 
a thousand in the bank notes which he had taken 
from the book and quietly transferred to his 
pocket. At the bank he had made out a new de- 
posit slip. His nerves had been steady enough to 
permit of his returning to the office, where he had 
finished his work and asked for a full day's holi- 
day tomorrow, Saturday, giving a perfectly rea- 
sonable pretext. The bank book, he knew, would 
not be returned before Monday or Tuesday, and 
his father would be out of town for the next week. 
From the time he slipped the bank notes into his 
pocket until he boarded the night train for New 
York, he had not known a moment's hesitation. 

How astonishingly easy it had all been; here he 
was, the thing done ; and this time there would be 
no awakening, no figure at the top of the stairs. 
He watched the snow flakes whirling by his win- 
dow until he fell asleep. 

When he awoke, it was four o'clock in the 
afternoon. He bounded up with a start; one of 
his precious days gone already ! He spent nearly 
an hour in dressing, watching every stage of his 
toilet carefully in the mirror. Everything was 
quite perfect; he was exactly the kind of boy he 
had always wanted to be. 

When he went downstairs, Paul took a carriage 
and drove up Fifth avenue toward the Park. 
223 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

The snow had somewhat abated; carriages and 
tradesmen's wagons were hurrying soundlessly to 
and fro in the winter twilight; boys in woollen 
mufflers were shovelling off the doorsteps; the 
avenue stages made fine spots of colour against 
the white street. Here and there on the corners 
whole flower gardens blooming behind glass win- 
dows, against which the snow flakes stuck and 
melted; violets, roses, carnations, lilies of the 
valley somehow vastly more lovely and allur- 
ing that they blossomed thus unnaturally in the 
snow. The Park itself was a wonderful stage 
winter-piece. 

When he returned, the pause of the twilight 
had ceased, and the tune of the streets had 
changed. The snow was falling faster, lights 
streamed from the hotels that reared their many 
stories fearlessly up into the storm, defying the 
raging Atlantic winds. A long, black stream of 
carnages poured down the avenue, intersected 
here and there by other streams, tending horizon- 
tally. There were a score of cabs about the en- 
trance of his hotel, and his driver had to wait. 
Boys in livery were running in and out of the awn- 
ing stretched across the sidewalk, up and down the 
red velvet carpet laid from the door to the street. 
Above, about, within it all, was the rumble and 
roar, the hurry and toss of thousands of human 
beings as hot for pleasure as himself, and on 
224 



Paul's Case 



every side of him towered the glaring affirmation 
of the omnipotence of wealth. 

The boy set his teeth and drew his shoulders 
together in a spasm of realization; the plot of 
all dramas, the text of all romances, the nerve- 
stuff of all sensations was whirling about him 
like the snow flakes. He burnt like a faggot in a 
tempest. 

When Paul came down to dinner, the music 
of the orchestra floated up the elevator shaft to 
greet him. As he stepped into the thronged 
corridor, he sank back into one of the chairs 
against the wall to get his breath. The lights, 
the chatter, the perfumes, the bewildering med- 
ley of colour he had, for a moment, the feel- 
ing of not being able to stand it. But only for 
a moment; these were his own people, he told 
himself. He went slowly about the corridors, 
through the writing-rooms, smoking-rooms, re* 
ception-rooms, as though he were exploring the 
chambers of an enchanted palace, built and peo- 
pled for him alone. 

When he reached the dining-room he sat down 
at a table near a window. The flowers, the white 
linen, the many-coloured wine glasses, the gay 
toilettes of the women, the low popping of corks, 
the undulating repetitions of the Blue Danube 
from the orchestra, all flooded Paul's dream with 
bewildering radiance. When the roseate tinge of 
225 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

his champagne was added that cold, precious, 
bubbling stuff that creamed and foamed in his 
glass Paul wondered that there were honest 
men in the world at all. This was what all the 
world was fighting for, he reflected; this was 
what all the struggle was about. He doubted the 
reality of his past. Had he ever known a place 
called Cordelia Street, a place where fagged look- 
ing business men boarded the early car? Mere 
rivets in a machine they seemed to Paul, sick- 
ening men, with combings of children's hair al- 
ways hanging to their coats, and the smell of 
cooking in their clothes. Cordelia Street Ah, 
that belonged to another time and country ! Had 
he not always been thus, had he not sat here 
night after night, from as far back as he could 
remember, looking pensively over just such shim- 
mering textures, and slowly twirling the stem of a 
glass like this one between his thumb and middle 
finger? He rather thought he had. 

He was not in the least abashed or lonely. He 
had no especial desire to meet or to know any of 
these people; all he demanded was the right to 
look on and conjecture, to watch the pageant. 
The mere stage properties were all he contended 
for. Nor was he lonely later in the evening, in 
his loge at the Opera. He was entirely rid of 
his nervous misgivings, of his forced aggressive- 
ness, of the imperative desire to show himself 
226 



Paul's Case 



different from his surroundings. He felt now 
that his surroundings explained him. Nobody 
questioned the purple; he had only to wear it 
passively. He had only to glance down at his 
dress coat to reassure himself that here it would 
be impossible for anyone to humiliate him. 

He found it hard to leave his beautiful sitting- 
room to go to bed that night, and sat long watch- 
ing the raging storm from his turret window. 
When he went to sleep, it was with the lights 
turned on in his bedroom; partly because of his 
old timidity, and partly so that, if he should 
wake in the night, there would be no wretched 
moment of doubt, no horrible suspicion of yellow 
wall-paper, or of Washington and Calvin above 
his bed. 

On Sunday morning the city was practically 
snow-bound. Paul breakfasted late, and in the 
afternoon he fell in with a wild San Francisco boy, 
a freshman at Yale, who said he had run down 
for a " little flyer " over Sunday. The young 
man offered to show Paul the night side of the 
town, and the two boys went off together after 
dinner, not returning to the hotel until seven 
o'clock the next morning. They had started out 
in the confiding warmth of a champagne friend- 
ship, but their parting in the elevator was sin- 
gularly cool. The freshman pulled himself to- 
gether to make his train, and Paul went to bed. 
227 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

He awoke at two o'clock in the afternoon, very 
thirsty and dizzy, and rang for ice-water, coffee, 
and the Pittsburgh papers. 

On the part of the hotel management, Paul ex- 
cited no suspicion. There was this to be said for 
him, that he wore his spoils with dignity and in 
no way made himself conspicuous. His chief 
greediness lay in his ears and eyes, and his ex- 
cesses were not offensive ones. His dearest 
pleasures were the grey winter twilights in his 
sitting-room; his quiet enjoyment of his flowers, 
his clothes, his wide divan, his cigarette and his 
sense of power. He could not remember a time 
when he had felt so at peace with himself. The 
mere release from the necessity of petty lying, 
lying every day and every day, restored his self- 
respect. He had never lied for pleasure, even 
at school; but to make himself noticed and ad- 
mired, to assert his difference from other Cor- 
delia Street boys; and he felt a good deal more 
manly, more honest, even, now that he had no 
need for boastful pretensions, now that he could, 
as his actor friends used to say, " dress the part." 
It was characteristic that remorse did not occur 
to him. His golden days went by without a 
shadow, and he made each as perfect as he could. 

On the eighth day after his arrival in New 
York, he found the whole affair exploited in the 
Pittsburgh papers, exploited with a wealth of de- 
228 



Paul's Case 



tail which indicated that local news of a sensa- 
tional nature was at a low ebb. The firm of 
Denny & Carson announced that the boy's father 
had refunded the full amount of his theft, and 
that they had no intention of prosecuting. The 
Cumberland minister had been interviewed, and 
expressed his hope of yet reclaiming the mother- 
less lad, and Paul's Sabbath-school teacher de- 
clared that she would spare no effort to that 
end. The rumour had reached Pittsburgh that 
the boy had been seen in a New York hotel, and 
his father had gone East to find him and bring 
him home. 

Paul had just come in to dress for dinner; he 
sank into a chair, weak in the knees, and clasped 
his head in his hands. It was to be worse than 
jail, even; the tepid waters of Cordelia Street 
were to close over him finally and forever. The 
grey monotony stretched before him in hopeless, 
unrelieved years; Sabbath-school, Young People's 
Meeting, the yellow-papered room, the damp 
dish-towels; it all rushed back upon him with 
sickening vividness. He had the old feeling that 
the orchestra had suddenly stopped, the sinking 
sensation that the play was over. The sweat 
broke out on his face, and he sprang to his feet, 
looked about him with his white, conscious smile, 
and winked at himself in the mirror. With some- 
thing of the childish belief in miracles with which 
; 229 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

he had so often gone to class, all his lessons un- 
learned, Paul dressed and dashed whistling down 
the corridor to the elevator. 

He had no sooner entered the dining-room and 
caught the measure of the music, than his remem- 
brance was lightened by his old elastic power of 
claiming the moment, mounting with it, and find- 
ing it all sufficient. The glare and glitter about 
him, the mere scenic accessories had again, and 
for the last time, their old potency. He would 
show himself that he was game, he would finish the 
thing splendidly. He doubted, more than ever, 
the existence of Cordelia Street, and for the first 
time he drank his wine recklessly. Was he not, 
after all, one of these fortunate beings? Was he 
not still himself, and in his own place? He 
drummed a nervous accompaniment to the music 
and looked about him, telling himself over and 
over that it had paid. 

He reflected drowsily, to the swell of the violin 
and the chill sweetness of his wine, that he might 
have done it more wisely. He might have caught 
an outbound steamer and been well out of their 
clutches before now. But the other side of the 
world had seemed too far away and too uncer- 
tain then; he could not have waited for it; his 
need had been too sharp. If he had to choose 
over again, he would do the same thing tomor- 
row. He looked affectionately about the dining- 
230 



Paul's Case 



room, now gilded with a soft mist. Ah, it had 
paid indeed! 

Paul was awakened next morning by a painful 
throbbing in his head and feet. He had thrown 
himself across the bed without undressing, and 
had slept with his shoes on. His limbs and hands 
were lead heavy, and his tongue and throat were 
parched. There came upon him one of those 
fateful attacks of clear-headedness that never oc- 
curred except when he was physically exhausted 
and his nerves hung loose. He lay still and 
closed his eyes and let the tide of realities wash 
over him. 

His father was in New York; " stopping at 
some joint or other," he told himself. The mem- 
ory of successive summers on the front stoop fell 
upon him like a weight of black water. He had 
not a hundred dollars left; and he knew now, 
more than ever, that money was everything, the 
wall that stood between all he loathed and all he 
wanted. The thing was winding itself up; he 
had thought of that on his first glorious day in 
New York, and had even provided a way to snap 
the thread. It lay on his dressing-table now; he 
had got it out last night when he came blindly up 
from dinner, but the shiny metal hurt his eyes, 
and he disliked the look of it, anyway. 

He rose and moved about with a painful effort, 
succumbing now and again to attacks of nausea. 
231 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

It was the old depression exaggerated; all the 
world had become Cordelia Street. Yet some- 
how he was not afraid of anything, was abso- 
lutely calm; perhaps because he had looked into 
the dark corner at last, and knew. It was bad 
enough, what he saw there; but somehow not so 
bad as his long fear of it had been. He saw 
everything clearly now. He had a feeling that 
he had made the best of it, that he had lived the 
sort of life he was meant to live, and for half an 
hour he sat staring at the revolver. But he told 
himself that was not the way, so he went down- 
stairs and took a cab to the ferry. 

When Paul arrived at Newark, he got off the 
train and took another cab, directing the driver 
to follow the Pennsylvania tracks out of the town. 
The snow lay heavy on the roadways and had 
drifted deep in the open fields. Only here and 
there the dead grass or dried weed stalks pro- 
jected, singularly black, above it. Once well into 
the country, Paul dismissed the carriage and 
walked, floundering along the tracks, his mind 
a medley of irrelevant things. He seemed to 
hold in his brain an actual picture of everything 
he had seen that morning. He remembered 
every feature of both his drivers, the toothless 
old woman from whom he had bought the red 
flowers in his coat, the agent from whom he had 
got his ticket, and all of his fellow-passengers on 
232 



Paul's Case 



the ferry. His mind, unable to cope with vital 
matters near at hand, worked feverishly and deftly 
at sorting and grouping these images. They 
made for him a part of the ugliness of the world, 
of the ache in his head, and the bitter burning on 
his tongue. He stooped and put a handful of 
snow into his mouth as he walked, but that, too, 
seemed hot. When he reached a little hillside, 
where the tracks ran through a cut some twenty 
feet below him, he stopped and sat down. 

The carnations in his coat were drooping with 
the cold, he noticed; all their red glory over. It 
occurred to him that all the flowers he had seen 
in the show windows that first night must have 
gone the same way, long before this. It was only 
one splendid breath they had, in spite of their 
brave mockery at the winter outside the glass. 
It was a losing game in the end, it seemed, this 
revolt against the homilies by which the world is 
run. Paul took one of the blossoms carefully 
from his coat and scooped a little hole in the 
snow, where he covered it up. Then he dozed a 
while, from his weak condition, seeming insensible 
to the cold. 

The sound of an approaching train woke him, 
and he started to his feet, remembering only his 
resolution, and afraid lest he should be too late. 
He stood watching the approaching locomotive, 
his teeth chattering, his lips drawn away from 
233 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

them in a frightened smile; once or twice he 
glanced nervously sidewise, as though he were 
being watched. When the right moment came, 
he jumped. As he fell, the folly of his haste oc- 
curred to him with merciless clearness, the vast- 
ness of what he had left undone. There flashed 
through his brain, clearer than ever before, the 
blue of Adriatic water, the yellow of Algerian 
sands. 

He felt something strike his chest, his body 
was being thrown swiftly through the air, on and 
on, immeasurably far and fast, while his limbs 
gently relaxed. Then, because the picture mak- 
ing mechanism was crushed, the disturbing visions 
flashed into black, and Paul dropped back into the 
immense design of things. 



234 



A Wagner Matinee 

I RECEIVED one morning a letter, written 
in pale ink on glassy, blue-lined note-paper, 
and bearing the postmark of a little Nebraska 
village. This communication, worn and rubbed, 
looking as if it had been carried for some days in 
a coat pocket that was none too clean, was from 
my uncle Howard, and informed me that his wife 
had been left a small legacy by a bachelor rela- 
tive, and that it would be necessary for her to go 
to Boston to attend to the settling of the estate. 
He requested me to meet her at the station and 
render her whatever services might be necessary. 
On examining the date indicated as that of her 
arrival, I found it to be no later than tomorrow. 
He had characteristically delayed writing until, 
had I been away from home for a day, I must 
have missed my aunt altogether. 

The name of my Aunt Georgiana opened be- 
fore me a gulf of recollection so wide and deep 
that, as the letter dropped from my hand, I felt 
suddenly a stranger to all the present conditions 
of my existence, wholly ill at ease and out of 
235 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

place amid the familiar surroundings of my study. 
I became, in short, the gangling farmer^boy my 
aunt had known, scourged with chilblains and 
bashfulness, my hands cracked and sore from the 
corn husking. I sat again before her parlour 
organ, fumbling the scales with my stiff, red fin- 
gers, while she, beside me, made canvas mittens 
for the huskers. 

The next morning, after preparing my land- 
lady for a visitor, I set out for the station. 
When the train arrived I had some difficulty in 
finding my aunt. She was the last of the passen- 
gers to alight, and it was not until I got her into 
the carriage that she seemed really to recognize 
me. She had come all the way in a day coach; 
her linen duster had become black with soot and 
her black bonnet grey with dust during the jour- 
ney. When we arrived at my boarding-house the 
landlady put her to bed at once and I did not see 
her again until the next morning. 

Whatever shock Mrs. Springer experienced at 
my aunt's appearance, she considerately concealed. 
As for myself, I saw my aunt's battered figure with 
that feeling of awe and respect with which we be- 
hold explorers who have left their ears and fingers 
north of Franz-Joseph-Land, or their health 
somewhere along the Upper Congo. My Aunt 
Georgiana had been a music teacher at the Boston 
Conservatory, somewhere back in the latter six- 
236 



A Wagner Matinee 



ties. One summer, while visiting in the little vil- 
lage among the Green Mountains where her an- 
cestors had dwelt for generations, she had kindled 
the callow fancy of my uncle, Howard Carpenter, 
then an idle, shiftless boy of twenty-one. When 
she returned to her duties in Boston, Howard fol- 
lowed her, and the upshot of this infatuation was 
that she eloped with him, eluding the reproaches 
of her family and the criticism of her friends by 
going with him to the Nebraska frontier. Car- 
penter, who, of course, had no money, took up a 
homestead in Red Willow County, fifty miles from 
the railroad. There they had measured off their 
land themselves, driving across the prairie in a 
wagon, to the wheel of which they had tied a red 
cotton handkerchief, and counting its revolutions. 
They built a dug-out in the red hillside, one of 
those cave dwellings whose inmates so often re- 
verted to primitive conditions. Their water they 
got from the lagoons where the buffalo drank, 
and their slender stock of provisions was always 
at the mercy of bands of roving Indians. For 
thirty years my aunt had not been farther than 
fifty miles from the homestead. 

I owed to this woman most of the good that 
ever came my way in my boyhood, and had a 
reverential affection for her. During the years 
when I was riding herd for my uncle, my aunt, 
after cooking the three meals the first of which 
237 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

was ready at six o'clock in the morning and 
putting the six children to bed, would often stand 
until midnight at her ironing-board, with me at 
the kitchen table beside her, hearing me recite 
Latin declensions and conjugations, gently shak- 
ing me when my drowsy head sank down over a 
page of irregular verbs. It was to her, at her 
ironing or mending, that I read my first Shak- 
spere, and her old text-book on mythology was the 
first that ever came into my empty hands. She 
taught me my scales and exercises on the little 
parlour organ which her husband had bought her 
after fifteen years during which she had not so 
much as seen a musical instrument. She would 
sit beside me by the hour, darning and counting, 
while I struggled with the " Joyous Farmer." 
She seldom talked to me about music, and I un- 
derstood why. Once when I had been doggedly 
beating out some easy passages from an old score 
of Euryanthe I had found among her music books, 
she came up to me and, putting her hands over my 
eyes, gently drew my head back upon her shoul- 
der, saying tremulously, " Don't love it so well, 
Clark, or it may he taken from you." 

When my aunt appeared on the morning after 
her arrival in Boston, she was still in a semi- 
somnambulant state. She seemed not to realize 
that she was in the city where she had spent her 
youth, the place longed for hungrily half a life- 

-238- 



A Wagner Matinee 



time. She had been so wretchedly train-sick 
throughout the journey that she had no recollec- 
tion of anything but her discomfort, and, to all 
intents and purposes, there were but a few hours 
of nightmare between the farm in Red Willow 
County and my study on Newbury Street. I had 
planned a little pleasure for her that afternoon, 
to repay her for some of the glorious moments 
she had given me when we used to milk together 
in the straw-thatched cowshed and she, because I 
was more than usually tired, or because her hus- 
band had spoken sharply to me, would tell me of 
the splendid performance of the Huguenots she 
had seen in Paris, in her youth. 

At two o'clock the Symphony Orchestra was to 
give a Wagner program, and I intended to take 
my aunt; though, as I conversed with her, I grew 
doubtful about her enjoyment of it. I suggested 
our visiting the Conservatory and the Common 
before lunch, but she seemed altogether too timid 
to wish to venture out. She questioned me ab- 
sently about various changes in the city, but she 
was chiefly concerned that she had forgotten to 
leave instructions about feeding half-skimmed 
milk to a certain weakling calf, " old Maggie's 
calf, you know, Clark," she explained, evidently 
having forgotten how long I had been away. She 
was further troubled because she had neglected to 
tell her daughter about the freshly-opened kit of 
239 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

mackerel in the cellar, which would spoil if it were 
not used directly. 

I asked her whether she had ever heard any of 
the Wagnerian operas, and found that she had 
not, though she was perfectly familiar with their 
respective situations, and had once possessed the 
piano score of The Flying Dutchman. I began 
to think it would be best to get her back to Red 
Willow County without waking her, and regretted 
having suggested the concert. 

From the time we entered the concert hall, how- 
ever, she was a trifle less passive and inert, and 
for the first time seemed to perceive her surround- 
ings. I had felt some trepidation lest she might 
become aware of her queer, country clothes, or 
might experience some painful embarrassment at 
stepping suddenly into the world to which she had 
been dead for a quarter of a century. But, again, 
I found how superficially I had judged her. She 
sat looking about her with eyes as impersonal, al- 
most as stony, as those with which the granite 
Rameses in a museum watches the froth and fret 
that ebbs and flows about his pedestal. I have 
seen this same aloofness in old miners who drift 
into the Brown hotel at Denver, their pockets full 
of bullion, their linen soiled, their haggard faces 
unshaven; standing in the thronged corridors as 
solitary as though they were still in a frozen camp 
on the Yukon. 

240 



A Wagner Matinee 



The matinee audience was made up chiefly of 
women. One lost the contour of faces and 
figures, indeed any effect of line whatever, and 
there was only the colour of bodices past counting, 
the shimmer of fabrics soft and firm, silky and 
sheer; red, mauve, pink, blue, lilac, purple, ecru, 
rose, yellow, cream, and white, all the colours 
that an impressionist finds in a sunlit landscape, 
with here and there the dead shadow of a frock 
coat. My Aunt Georgiana regarded them as 
though they had been so many daubs of tube- 
paint on a palette. \ 

When the musicians came out and took their 
places, she gave a little stir of anticipation, and 
looked with quickening interest down over the rail 
at that invariable grouping, perhaps the first 
wholly familiar thing that had greeted her eye 
since she had left old Maggie and her weakling 
calf. I could feel how all those details sank into 
her soul, for I had not forgotten how they had 
sunk into mine when I came fresh from plough- 
ing forever and forever between green aisles of 
corn, where, as in a treadmill, one might walk 
from daybreak to dusk without perceiving a 
shadow of change. The clean profiles of the mu- 
sicians, the gloss of their linen, the dull black of 
their coats, the beloved shapes of the instruments, 
the patches of yellow light on the smooth, var- 
nished bellies of the 'cellos and the bass viols in 
241 



Youth and the Bnght Medusa 

the rear, the restless, wind-tossed forest of fiddle 
necks and bows I recalled how, in the first or- 
chestra I ever heard, those long bow-strokes 
seemed to draw the heart out of me, as a con- 
jurer's stick reels out yards of paper ribbon from 
a hat. 

The first number was the Tannhauser overture. 
When the horns drew out the first strain of the 
Pilgrim's chorus, Aunt Georgiana clutched my 
coat sleeve. Then it was I first realized that for 
her this broke a silence of thirty years. With 
the battle between the two motives, with the 
frenzy of the Venusberg theme and its ripping of 
strings, there came to me an overwhelming sense 
of the waste and wear we are so powerless to com- 
bat; and I saw again the tall, naked house on the 
prairie, black and grim as a wooden fortress ; the 
black pond where I had learned to swim, its mar- 
gin pitted with sun-dried cattle tracks; the rain 
gullied clay banks about the naked house, the four 
dwarf ash seedlings where the dish-cloths were 
always hung to dry before the kitchen door. The 
world there was the flat world of the ancients; to 
the east, a cornfield that stretched to daybreak; 
to the west, a corral that reached to sunset; be- 
tween, the conquests of peace, dearer-bought than 
those of war. 

The overture closed, my aunt released my coat 
sleeve, but she said nothing. She sat staring dully 
242 



A Wagner Matinee 



at the orchestra. What, I wondered, did she get 
from it? She had been a good pianist in her day, 
I knew, and her musical education had been 
broader than that of most music teachers of a 
quarter of a century ago. She had often told me 
of Mozart's operas and Meyerbeer's, and I could 
remember hearing her sing, years ago, certain 
melodies of Verdi. When I had fallen ill with 
a fever in her house she used to sit by my cot in 
the evening when the cool, night wind blew in 
through the faded mosquito netting tacked over 
the window and I lay watching a certain bright 
star that burned red above the cornfield and 
sing " Home to our mountains, O, let us return ! " 
in a way fit to break the heart of a Vermont boy 
near dead of homesickness already. 

I watched her closely through the prelude to 
Tristan and Isolde, trying vainly to conjecture 
what that seething turmoil of strings and winds 
might mean to her, but she sat mutely staring at 
the violin bows that drove obliquely downward, 
like the pelting streaks of rain in a summer 
shower. Had this music any message for her? 
Had she enough left to at all comprehend this 
power which had kindled the world since she had 
left it? I was in a fever of curiosity, but Aunt 
Georgiana sat silent upon her peak in Darien. 
She preserved this utter immobility throughout 
the number from The Flying Dutchman, though 
243 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

her fingers worked mechanically upon her black 
dress, as if, of themselves, they were recalling 
the piano score they had once played. Poor 
hands ! They had been stretched and twisted into 
mere tentacles to hold and lift and knead with ; 
on one of them a thin, worn band that had once 
been a wedding ring. As I pressed and gently 
quieted one of those groping hands, I remembered 
with quivering eyelids their services for me in 
other days. 

Soon after the tenor began the " Prize Song," 
I heard a quick drawn breath and turned to my 
aunt. Her eyes were closed, but the tears were 
glistening on her cheeks, and I think, in a mo- 
ment more, they were in my eyes as well. It never 
really died, then the soul which can suffer so ex- 
cruciatingly and so interminably; it withers to the 
outward eye only; like that strange moss which 
can lie on a dusty shelf half a century and yet, if 
placed in water, grows green again. She wept so 
throughout the development and elaboration of 
the melody. 

During the intermission before the second half, 
I questioned my aunt and found that the " Prize 
Song " was not new to her. Some years before 
there had drifted to the farm in Red Willow 
County a young German, a tramp cow-puncher, 
who had sung in the chorus at Bayreuth when he 
was a boy, along with the other peasant boys and 
244 



A Wagner Matinee 



girls. Of a Sunday morning he used to sit on his 
gingham-sheeted bed in the hands* bedroom which 
opened off the kitchen, cleaning the leather of his 
boots and saddle, singing the " Prize Song," while 
my aunt went about her work in the kitchen. 
She had hovered over him until she had pre- 
vailed upon him to join the country church, though 
his sole fitness for this step, in so far as I could 
gather, lay in his boyish face and his possession 
of this divine melody. Shortly afterward, he had 
gone to town on the Fourth of July, been drunk 
for several days, lost his money at a faro table, 
ridden a saddled Texas steer on a bet, and dis- 
appeared with a fractured collar-bone. All this 
my aunt told me huskily, wanderingly, as though 
she were talking in the weak lapses of illness. 

'* Well, we have come to better things than the 
old Trovatore at any rate, Aunt Georgie?" I 
queried, with a well meant effort at jocularity. 

Her lip quivered and she hastily put her hand- 
kerchief up to her mouth. From behind it she 
murmured, " And you have been hearing this ever 
since you left me, Clark? " Her question was the 
gentlest and saddest of reproaches. 

The second half of the program consisted of 
four numbers from the Ring, and closed with 
Siegfried's funeral march. My aunt wept quietly, 
but almost continuously, as a shallow vessel over- 
flows in a rain-storm. From time to time her dim 
245 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

eyes looked up at the lights, burning softly under 
their dull glass globes. 

The deluge of sound poured on and on; I 
never knew what she found in the shining current 
of it; I never knew how far it bore her, or past 
what happy islands. From the trembling of her 
face I could well believe that before the last 
number she had been carried out where the 
myriad graves are, into the grey, nameless bury- 
ing grounds of the sea; or into some world of 
death vaster yet, where, from the beginning of 
the world, hope has lain down with hope and 
dream with dream and, renouncing, slept. 

The concert was over; the people filed out of 
the hall chattering and laughing, glad to relax 
and find the living level again, but my kins- 
woman made no effort to rise. The harpist 
slipped the green felt cover over his instrument; 
the flute-players shook the water from their mouth- 
pieces; the men of the orchestra went out one by 
one, leaving the stage to the chairs and music 
stands, empty as a winter cornfield. 

I spoke to my aunt. She burst into tears and 
sobbed pleadingly. " I don't want to go, Clark, I 
don't want to go ! " 

I understood. For her, just outside the con- 
cert hall, lay the black pond with the cattle- 
tracked bluffs; the tall, unpainted house, with 
246 



A W agner Matinee 



weather-curled boards, naked as a tower; the 
crook-backed ash seedlings where the dish-cloths 
hung to dry; the gaunt, moulting turkeys picking 
up refuse about the kitchen door. 



247 



The Sculptor's Funeral 

A GROUP of the townspeople stood on the 
station siding of a little Kansas town, 
awaiting the coming of the night train, 
which was already twenty minutes overdue. The 
snow had fallen thick over everything; in the pale 
starlight the line of bluffs across the wide, white 
meadows south of the town made soft, smoke- 
coloured curves against the clear sky. The men 
on the siding stood first on one foot and then on 
the other, their hands thrust deep into their 
trousers pockets, their overcoats open, their shoul- 
ders screwed up with the cold; and they glanced 
from time to time toward the southeast, where 
the railroad track wound along the river shore. 
They conversed in low tones and moved about rest- 
lessly, seeming uncertain as to what was expected 
of them. There was but one of the company who 
looked as if he knew exactly why he was there, 
and he kept conspicuously apart; walking to the 
far end of the platform, returning to the station 
door, then pacing up the track again, his chin sunk 
in the high collar of his overcoat, his burly shoul- 
ders drooping forward, his gait heavy and dogged. 
248 



The Sculptor s Funeral 



Presently he was approached by a tall, spare, griz- 
zled man clad in a faded Grand Army suit, who 
shuffled out from the group and advanced with a 
certain deference, craning his neck forward until 
his back made the angle of a jack-knife three- 
quarters open. 

" I reckon she's a-goin' to be pretty late agin to- 
night, Jim," he remarked in a squeaky falsetto. 
"S'pose it's the snow?" 

" I don't know," responded the other man with 
a shade of annoyance, speaking from out an as- 
tonishing cataract of red beard that grew fiercely 
and thickly in all directions. 

The spare man shifted the quill toothpick he 
was chewing to the other side of his mouth. " It 
ain't likely that anybody from the East will come 
with the corpse, I s'pose," he went on reflectively. 

" I don't know," responded the other, more 
curtly than before. 

" It's too bad he didn't belong to some lodge or 
other. I like an order funeral myself. They 
seem more appropriate for people of some repy- 
tation," the spare man continued, with an in- 
gratiating concession in his shrill voice, as he care- 
fully placed his toothpick in his vest pocket. He 
always carried the flag at the G. A. R. funerals in 
the town. 

The heavy man turned on his heel, without re- 
plying, and walked up the siding. The spare man 
249 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

rejoined the uneasy group. " Jim's ez full ez a 
tick, ez ushel," he commented commiseratingly. 

Just then a distant whistle sounded, and there 
was a shuffling of feet on the platform. A num- 
ber of lanky boys, of all ages, appeared as sud- 
denly and slimily as eels wakened by the crack of 
thunder; some came from the waiting-room, where 
they had been warming themselves by the red 
stove, or half asleep on the slat benches; others 
uncoiled themselves from baggage trucks or slid 
out of express wagons. Two clambered down 
from the driver's seat of a hearse that stood 
backed up against the siding. They straightened 
their stooping shoulders and lifted their heads, 
and a flash of momentary animation kindled their 
dull eyes at that cold, vibrant scream, the world- 
wide call for men. It stirred them like the note 
of a trumpet; just as it had often stirred the man 
who was coming home tonight, in his boyhood. 

The night express shot, red as a rocket, from 
out the eastward marsh lands and wound along 
the river shore under the long lines of shivering 
poplars that sentinelled the meadows, the escap- 
ing steam hanging in grey masses against the 
pale sky and blotting out the Milky Way. In a 
moment the red glare from the headlight streamed 
up the snow-covered track before the siding and 
glittered on the wet, black rails. The burly man 
with f .he dishevelled red beard walked swiftly up 
250 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



the platform toward the approaching train, un- 
covering his head as he went. The group of men 
behind him hesitated, glanced questioningly at one 
another, and awkwardly followed his example. 
The train stopped, and the crowd shuffled up to 
the express car just as the door was thrown open, 
the man in the G. A. R. suit thrusting his head 
forward with curiosity. The express messenger 
appeared in the doorway, accompanied by a young 
man in a long ulster and travelling cap. 

"Are Mr. Merrick's friends here?" inquired 
the young man. 

The group on the platform swayed uneasily. 
Philip Phelps, the banker, responded with dig- 
nity: " We have come to take charge of the 
body. Mr. Merrick's father is very feeble and 
can't be about." 

u Send the agent out here," growled the ex- 
press messenger, " and tell the operator to lend a 
hand." 

The coffin was got out of its rough-box and 
down on the snowy platform. The townspeople 
drew back enough to make room for it and then 
formed a close semicircle about it, looking curi- 
ously at the palm leaf which lay across the black 
cover. No one said anything. The baggage man 
stood by his truck, waiting to get at the trunks. 
The engine panted heavily, and the fireman 
dodged in and out among the wheels with his yel- 
251 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

low torch and long oil-can, snapping the spindle 
boxes. The young Bostonian, one of the dead 
sculptor's pupils who had come with the body, 
looked about him helplessly. He turned to the 
banker, the only one of that black, uneasy, stoop- 
shouldered group who seemed enough of an indi- 
vidual to be addressed. 

" None of Mr. Merrick's brothers are here? " 
he asked uncertainly. 

The man with the red beard for the first time 
stepped up and joined the others. " No, they have 
not come yet; the family is scattered. The body 
will be taken directly to the house." He stooped 
and took hold of one of the handles of the coffin. 

1 Take the long hill road up, Thompson, it will 
be easier on the horses," called the liveryman as 
the undertaker snapped the door of the hearse 
and prepared to mount to the driver's seat. 

Laird, the red-bearded lawyer, turned again 
to the stranger: " We didn't know whether 
there would be any one with him or not," he ex- 
plained. " It's a long walk, so you'd better go up 
in the hack." He pointed to a single battered 
conveyance, but the young man replied stiffly: 
' Thank you, but I think I will go up with the 
hearse. If you don't object," turning to the un- 
dertaker, " I'll ride with you." 

They clambered up over the wheels and drove 
off in the starlight up the long, white hill toward 
252 



The Sculptor 9 s Funeral 



the town. The lamps in the still village were 
shining from under the low, snow-burdened roofs; 
and beyond, on every side, the plains reached out 
into emptiness, peaceful and wide as the soft sky 
itself, and wrapped in a tangible, white silence. 

When the hearse backed up to a wooden side- 
walk before a naked, weather-beaten frame house, 
the same composite, ill-defined group that had 
stood upon the station siding was huddled about 
the gate. The front yard was an icy swamp, and 
a couple of warped planks, extending from the 
sidewalk to the door, made a sort of rickety foot- 
bridge. The gate hung on one hinge, and was 
opened wide with difficulty. Steavens, the young 
stranger, noticed that something black was tied 
to the knob of the front door. 

The grating sound made by the casket, as it 
was drawn from the hearse, was answered by a 
scream from the house; the front door was 
wrenched open, and a tall, corpulent woman 
rushed out bareheaded into the snow and flung 
herself upon the coffin, shrieking: " My boy, my 
boy ! And this is how you've come home to me ! " 

As Steavens turned away and closed his eyes 
with a shudder of unutterable repulsion, another 
woman, also tall, but flat and angular, dressed 
entirely in black, darted out of the house and 
caught Mrs. Merrick by the shoulders, crying 
sharply: " Come, come, mother; you mustn't go 
253 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

on like this ! " Her tone changed to one of ob- 
sequious solemnity as she turned to the banker: 
" The parlour is ready, Mr. Phelps." 

The bearers carried the coffin along the nar- 
row boards, while the undertaker ran ahead with 
the coffin-rests. They bore it into a large, un- 
heated room that smelled of dampness and dis- 
use and furniture polish, and set it down under a 
hanging lamp ornamented with jingling glass 
prisms and before a " Rogers group " of John 
Alden and Priscilla, wreathed with smilax. 
Henry Steavens stared about him with the sicken- 
ing conviction that there had been a mistake, and 
that he had somehow arrived at the wrong des- 
tination. He looked at the clover-green Brus- 
sels, the fat plush upholstery, among the hand- 
painted china placques and panels and vases, for 
some mark of identification, for something that 
might once conceivably have belonged to Harvey 
Merrick. It was not until he recognized his 
friend in the crayon portrait of a little boy in kilts 
and curls, hanging above the piano, that he felt 
willing to let any of these people approach the 
coffin. 

" Take the lid off, Mr. Thompson; let me see 
my boy's face," wailed the elder woman between 
her sobs. This time Steavens looked fearfully, 
almost beseechingly into her face, red and swollen 
under its masses of strong, black, shiny hair. He 
254 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



flushed, dropped his eyes, and then, almost in- 
credulously, looked again. There was a kind of 
power about her face a kind of brutal hand- 
someness, even; but it was scarred and furrowed 
by violence, and so coloured and coarsened by 
fiercer passions that grief seemed never to have 
laid a gentle finger there. The long nose was 
distended and knobbed at the end, and there were 
deep lines on either side of it; her heavy, black 
brows almost met across her forehead, her teeth 
were large and square, and set far apart teeth 
that could tear. She filled the room; the men 
were obliterated, seemed tossed about like twigs 
in an angry water, and even Steavens felt himself 
being drawn into the whirlpool. 

The daughter the tall, raw-boned woman in 
crepe, with a mourning comb in her hair which 
curiously lengthened her long face sat stiffly 
upon the sofa, her hands, conspicuous for their 
large knuckles, folded in her lap, her mouth and 
eyes drawn down, solemnly awaiting the opening 
of the coffin. Near the door stood a mulatto 
woman, evidently a servant in the house, with a 
timid bearing and an emaciated face pitifully sad 
and gentle. She was weeping silently, the corner 
of her calico apron lifted to her eyes, occasionally 
suppressing a long, quivering sob. Steavens 
walked over and stood beside her. 

Feeble steps were heard on the stairs, and an 
255 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

old man, tall and frail, odorous of pipe smoke, 
with shaggy, unkept grey hair and a dingy beard, 
tobacco stained about the mouth, entered uncer- 
tainly. He went slowly up to the coffin and stood 
rolling a blue cotton handkerchief between his 
hands, seeming so pained and embarrassed by his 
wife's orgy of grief that he had no consciousness 
of anything else. 

" There, there, Annie, dear, don't take on so," 
he quavered timidly, putting out a shaking hand 
and awkwardly patting her elbow. She turned 
and sank upon his shoulder with such violence 
that he tottered a little. He did not even glance 
toward the coffin, but continued to look at her with 
a dull, frightened, appealing expression, as a span- 
iel looks at the whip. His sunken cheeks slowly 
reddened and burned with miserable shame. 
When his wife rushed from the room, her daugh- 
ter strode after her with set lips. The servant 
stole up to the coffin, bent over it for a moment, 
and then slipped away to the kitchen, leaving 
Steavens, the lawyer, and the father to themselves. 
The old man stood looking down at his dead son's 
face. The sculptor's splendid head seemed even 
more noble in its rigid stillness than in life. The 
dark hair had crept down upon the wide fore- 
head; the face seemed strangely long, but in it 
there was not that repose we expect to find in the 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



faces of the dead. The brows were so drawn 
that there were two deep lines above the beaked 
nose, and the chin was thrust forward defiantly. 
It was as though the strain of life had been so 
sharp and bitter that death could not at once 
relax the tension and smooth the countenance into 
perfect peace as though he were still guarding 
something precious, which might even yet be 
wrested from him. 

The old man's lips were working under his 
stained beard. He turned to the lawyer with 
timid deference : " Phelps and the rest are 
comin' back to set up with Harve, ain't they? " 
he asked. " Thank 'ee, Jim, thank 'ee." He 
brushed the hair back gently from his son's fore- 
head. " He was a good boy, Jim; always a good 
boy. He was ez gentle ez a child and the kindest 
of 'em all only we didn't none of us ever onder- 
stand him." The tears trickled slowly down his 
beard and dropped upon the sculptor's coat. 

" Martin, Martin! Oh, Martin! come here," 
his wife wailed from the top of the stairs. The 
old man started timorously: u Yes, Annie, I'm 
coming." He turned away, hesitated, stood for 
a moment in miserable indecision; then reached 
back and patted the dead man's hair softly, and 
stumbled from the room. 

" Poor old man, I didn't think he had any tears 
257 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

left. Seems as if his eyes would have gone dry 
long ago. At his age nothing cuts very deep," 
remarked the lawyer. 

Something in his tone made Steavens glance 
up. While the mother had been in the room, the 
young man had scarcely seen any one else; but 
now, from the moment he first glanced into Jim 
Laird's florid face and blood-shot eyes, he knew 
that he had found what he had been heartsick at 
not finding before the feeling, the understand- 
ing, that must exist in some one, even here. 

The man was red as his beard, with features 
swollen and blurred by dissipation, and a hot, 
blazing blue eye. His face was strained that 
of a man who is controlling himself with difficulty 
and he kept plucking at his beard with a sort 
of fierce resentment. Steavens, sitting by the win- 
dow, watched him turn down the glaring lamp, 
still its jangling pendants with an angry gesture, 
and then stand with his hands locked behind him, 
staring down into the master's face. He could 
not help wondering what link there had been be- 
tween the porcelain vessel and so sooty a lump 
of potter's clay. 

From the kitchen an uproar was sounding; 
when the dining-room door opened, the import of 
it was clear. The mother was abusing the maid 
for having forgotten to make the dressing for the 
chicken salad which had been prepared for the 
258 



The Sculptor s Funeral 



watchers. Steavens had never heard anything in 
the least like it; it was injured, emotional, dra- 
matic abuse, unique and masterly in its excru- 
ciating cruelty, as violent and unrestrained as had 
been her grief of twenty minutes before. With a 
shudder of disgust the lawyer went into the dining- 
room and closed the door into the kitchen. 

" Poor Roxy's getting it now," he remarked 
when he came back. " The Merricks took her 
out of the poor-house years ago; and if her loyalty 
would let her, I guess the poor old thing could 
tell tales that would curdle your blood. She's 
the mulatto woman who was standing in here a 
while ago, with her apron to her eyes. The old 
woman is a fury; there never was anybody like 
her. She made Harvey's life a hell for him when 
he lived at home ; he was so sick ashamed of it. I 
never could see how he kept himself sweet." 

" He was wonderful," said Steavens slowly, 
" wonderful; but until tonight I have never known 
how wonderful." 

' That is the eternal wonder of it, anyway ; 
that it can come even from such a dung heap as 
this," the lawyer cried, with a sweeping gesture 
which seemed to indicate much more than the 
four walls within which they stood. 

" I think I'll see whether I can get a little air. 
The room is so close I am beginning to feel 
rather faint," murmured Steavens, struggling 
259 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

with one of the windows. The sash was stuck, 
however, and would not yield, so he sat down 
dejectedly and began pulling at his collar. The 
lawyer came over, loosened the sash with one 
blow of his red fist and sent the window up a few 
inches. Steavens thanked him, but the nausea 
which had been gradually climbing into his 
throat for the last half hour left him with but one 
desire a desperate feeling that he must get 
away from this place with what was left of Har- 
vey Merrick. Oh, he comprehended well enough 
now the quiet bitterness of the smile that he had 
seen so often on his master's lips ! 

Once when Merrick returned from a visit home, 
he brought with him a singularly feeling and sug- 
gestive bas-relief of a thin, faded old woman, 
sitting and sewing something pinned to her knee; 
while a full-lipped, full-blooded little urchin, his 
trousers held up by a single gallows, stood beside 
her, impatiently twitching her gown to call her 
attention to a butterfly he had caught. Steavens, 
impressed by the tender and delicate modelling 
of the thin, tired face, had asked him if it were 
his mother. He remembered the dull flush that 
had burned up in the sculptor's face. 

The lawyer was sitting in a rocking-chair be- 
side the coffin, his head thrown back and his eyes 
closed. Steavens looked at him earnestly, puz- 
zled at the line of the chin, and wondering why 
260 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



a man should conceal a feature of such distinc- 
tion under that disfiguring shock of beard. Sud- 
denly, as though he felt the young sculptor's keen 
glance, Jim Laird opened his eyes. 

' Was he always a good deal of an oyster? " 
he asked abruptly. " He was terribly shy as a 
boy." 

" Yes, he was an oyster, since you put it so," 
rejoined Stevens. " Although he could be very 
fond of people, he always gave one the impres- 
sion of being detached. He disliked violent emo- 
tion; he was reflective, and rather distrustful of 
himself except, of course, as regarded his 
work. He was sure enough there. He dis- 
trusted men pretty thoroughly and women even 
more, yet somehow without believing ill of them. 
He was determined, indeed, to believe the best; 
but he seemed afraid to investigate." 

" A burnt dog dreads the fire," said the lawyer 
grimly, and closed his eyes. 

Steavens went on and on, reconstructing that 
whole miserable boyhood. All this raw, biting 
ugliness had been the portion of the man whose 
mind was to become an exhaustless gallery of 
beautiful impressions so sensitive that the mere 
shadow of a poplar leaf flickering against a sunny 
wall would be etched and held there for ever. 
Surely, if ever a man had the magic, word in his 
finger tips, it was Merrick. Whatever he 
261 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

touched, he revealed its holiest secret; liberated 
it from enchantment and restored it to its pris- 
tine loveliness. Upon whatever he had come in 
contact with, he had left a beautiful record of the 
experience a sort of ethereal signature ; a scent, 
a sound, a colour that was his own. 

Steavens understood now the real tragedy of his 
master's life; neither love nor wine, as many had 
conjectured; but a blow which had fallen earlier 
and cut deeper than anything else could have done 
a shame not his, and yet so unescapably his, to 
hide in his heart from his very boyhood. And 
without the frontier warfare; the yearning of 
a boy, cast ashore upon a desert of newness and 
ugliness and sordidness, for all that is chastened 
and old, and noble with traditions. 

At eleven o'clock the tall, flat woman in black 
announced that the watchers were arriving, and 
asked them to " step into the dining-room." As 
Steavens rose, the lawyer said dryly: "You go 
on it'll be a good experience for you. I'm not 
equal to that crowd tonight; I've had twenty years 
of them." 

As Steavens closed the door after him he 
glanced back at the lawyer, sitting by the coffin 
in the dim light, with his chin resting on his 
hand. 

The same misty group that had stood before 
the door of the express car shuffled into the dining- 
262 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



room. In the light of the kerosene lamp they 
separated and became individuals. The minister, 
a pale, feeble-looking man with white hair and 
blond chin-whiskers, took his seat beside a small 
side table and placed his Bible upon it. The 
Grand Army man sat down behind the stove and 
tilted his chair back comfortably against the wall, 
fishing his quill toothpick from his waistcoat 
pocket. The two bankers, Phelps and Elder, sat 
off in a corner behind the dinner-table, where they 
could finish their discussion of the new usury law 
and its effect on chattel security loans. The real 
estate agent, an old man with a smiling, hypo- 
critical face, soon joined them. The coal and 
lumber dealer and the cattle shipper sat on op- 
posite sides of the hard coal-burner, their feet on 
the nickel-work. Steavens took a book from his 
pocket and began to read. The talk around him 
ranged through various topics of local interest 
while the house was quieting down. When it was 
clear that the members of the family were in bed, 
the Grand Army man hitched his shoulders and, 
untangling his long legs, caught his heels on the 
rounds of his chair. 

" S'pose there'll be a will, Phelps? " he queried 
in his weak falsetto. 

The banker laughed disagreeably, and began 
trimming his nails with a pearl-handled pocket- 
knife. 

-263- 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

4 There'll scarcely be any need for one, will 
there?" he queried in his turn. 

The restless Grand Army man shifted his posi- 
tion again, getting his knees still nearer his chin. 
4 Why, the ole man says Harve's done right well 
lately," he chirped. 

The other banker spoke up. " I reckon he 
means by that Harve ain't asked him to mortgage 
any more farms lately, so as he could go on with 
his education." 

44 Seems like my mind don't reach back to a 
time when Harve wasn't bein' edycated," tittered 
the Grand Army man. 

There was a general chuckle. The minister 
took out his handkerchief and blew his nose 
sonorously. Banker Phelps closed his knife with 
a snap. ' 4 It's too bad the old man's sons didn't 
turn out better," he remarked with reflective 
authority. 4 They never hung together. He 
spent money enough on Harve to stock a dozen 
cattle-farms, and he might as well have poured it 
into Sand Creek. If Harve had stayed at home 
and helped nurse what little they had, and gone 
into stock on the old man's bottom farm, they 
might all have been well fixed. But the old man 
had to trust everything to tenants and was 
cheated right and left." 

44 Harve never could have handled stock none," 
264 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



interposed the cattleman. " He hadn't it in him 
to be sharp. Do you remember when he bought 
Sander's mules for eight-year olds, when every- 
body in town knew that Sander's father-in-law 
give 'em to his wife for a wedding present eigh- 
teen' years before, an' they was full-grown mules 
then?" 

The company laughed discreetly, and the Grand 
Army man rubbed his knees with a spasm of child- 
ish delight. 

" Harve never was much account for any- 
thing practical, and he shore was never fond of 
work," began the coal and lumber dealer. " I 
mind the last time he was home ; the day he left, 
when the old man was out to the barn helpin' his 
hand hitch up to take Harve to the train, and 
Cal Moots was patchin' up the fence; Harve, he 
come out on the step and sings out, in his lady- 
like voice : ' Cal Moots, Cal Moots ! please come 
cord my trunk.' ' 

" That's Harve for you," approved the Grand 
Army man. " I kin hear him howlin' yet, when 
he was a big feller in long pants and his mother 
used to whale him with a rawhide in the barn 
for lettin' the cows git foundered in the cornfield 
when he was drivin' 'em home from pasture. He 
killed a cow of mine that-a-way onct a pure 
Jersey and the best milker I had, an' the ole man 
265 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

had to put up for her. Harve, he was watchin' 
the sun set acrost the marshes when the anamile 
got away." 

' Where the old man made his mistake was in 
sending the boy East to school," said Phelps, 
stroking his goatee and speaking in a deliberate, 
judicial tone. " There was where he got his head 
full of nonsense. What Harve needed, of all 
people, was a course in some first-class Kansas 
City business college." 

The letters were swimming before Steavens's 
eyes. Was it possible that these men did not un- 
derstand, that the palm on the coffin meant noth- 
ing to them? The very name of their town 
would have remained for ever buried in the pos- 
tal guide had it not been now and again men- 
tioned in the world in connection with Harvey 
Merrick's. He remembered what his master had 
said to him on the day of his death, after the con- 
gestion of both lungs had shut off any probability 
of recovery, and the sculptor had asked his pupil 
to send his body home. " It's not a pleasant place 
to be lying while the world is moving and doing 
and bettering," he had said with a feeble smile, 
" but it rather seems as though we ought to go 
back to the place we came from, in the end. The 
townspeople will come in for a look at me; and 
after they have had their say, I shan't have much 
to fear from the judgment of God ! " 
266 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



The cattleman took up the comment. " Forty's 
young for a Merrick to cash in; they usually hang 
on pretty well. Probably he helped it along with 
whisky." 

u His mother's people were not long lived, and 
Harvey never had a robust constitution/' said 
the minister mildly. He would have liked to say 
more. He had been the boy's Sunday-school 
teacher, and had been fond of him; but he felt 
that he was not in a position to speak. His own 
sons had turned out badly, and it was not a year 
since one of them had made his last trip home in 
the express car, shot in a gambling-house in the 
Black Hills. 

" Nevertheless, there is no disputin' that Harve 
frequently looked upon the wine when it was red, 
also variegated, and it shore made an oncommon 
fool of him," moralized the cattleman. 

Just then the door leading into the parlour rat- 
tled loudly and every one started involuntarily, 
looking relieved when only Jim Laird came out. 
The Grand Army man ducked his head when he 
saw the spark in his blue, blood-shot eye. They 
were all afraid of Jim; he was a drunkard, but he 
could twist the law to suit his client's needs as no 
other man in all western Kansas could do, and 
there were many who tried. The lawyer closed 
the door behind him, leaned back against it and 
folded his arms, cocking his head a little to one 

-267- 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

side. When he assumed this attitude in the 
court-room, ears were always pricked up, as it 
usually foretold a flood of withering sarcasm. 

" I've been with you gentlemen before/' he be- 
gan in a dry, even tone, " when you've sat by 
the coffins of boys born and raised in this town; 
and, if I remember rightly, you were never any 
too well satisfied when you checked them up. 
What's the matter, anyhow? Why is it that re- 
putable young men are as scarce as millionaires 
in Sand City? It might almost seem to a stranger 
that there was some way something the matter 
with your progressive town. Why did Ruben 
Sayer, the brightest young lawyer you ever 
turned out, after he had come home from the 
university as straight as a die, take to drinking 
and forge a check and shoot himself? Why did 
Bill Merrit's son die of the shakes in a saloon in 
Omaha? Why was Mr. Thomas's son, here, shot 
in a gambling-house? Why did young Adams 
burn his mill to beat the insurance companies and 
go to the pen? " 

The lawyer paused and unfolded his arms, lay- 
ing one clenched fist quietly on the table. " I'll 
tell you why. Because you drummed nothing but 
money and knavery into their ears from the time 
they wore knickerbockers; because you carped 
away at them as you've been carping here tonight, 
holding our friends Phelps and Elder up to them 
268 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



for their models, as our grandfathers held up 
George Washington and John Adams. But the 
boys were young, and raw at the business you put 
them to, and how could they match coppers with 
such artists as Phelps and Elder? You wanted 
them to be successful rascals; they were only un- 
successful ones that's all the difference. There 
was only one boy ever raised in this borderland 
between ruffianism and civilization who didn't 
come to grief, and you hated Harvey Merrick 
more for winning out than you hated all the other 
boys who got under the wheels. Lord, Lord, 
how you did hate him ! Phelps, here, is fond of 
saying that he could buy and sell us all out any 
time he's a mind to ; but he knew Harve wouldn't 
have given a tinker's damn for his bank and all 
his cattlefarms put together; and a lack of ap- 
preciation, that way, goes hard with Phelps. 

" Old Nimrod thinks Harve drank too much; 
and this from such as Nimrod and me ! 

" Brother Elder says Harve was too free with 
the old man's money fell short in filial consid- 
eration, maybe. Well, we can all remember the 
very tone in which brother Elder swore his own 
father was a liar, in the county court; and we all 
know that the old man came out of that partner- 
ship with his son as bare as a sheared lamb. But 
maybe I'm getting personal, and I'd better be 
driving ahead at what I want to say." 
269 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

The lawyer paused a moment, squared his 
heavy shoulders, and went on: "Harvey Mer- 
rick and I went to school together, back East. 
We were dead in earnest, and we wanted you all 
to be proud of us some day. We meant to be 
great men. Even I, and I haven't lost my sense 
of humour, gentlemen, I meant to be a great 
man. I came back here to practise, and I found 
you didn't in the least want me to be a great 
man. You wanted me to be a shrewd lawyer 
oh, yes ! Our veteran here wanted me to get him 
an increase of pension, because he had dyspepsia; 
Phelps wanted a new county survey that would 
put the widow Wilson's little bottom farm in- 
side his south line; Elder wanted to lend money 
at 5 per cent, a month, and get it collected; and 
Stark here wanted to wheedle old women up in 
Vermont into investing their annuities in real- 
estate mortgages that are not worth the paper 
they are written on. Oh, you needed me hard 
enough, and you'll go on needing me ! 

" Well, I came back here and became the 
damned shyster you wanted me to be. You pre- 
tend to have some sort of respect for me; and yet 
you'll stand up and throw mud at Harvey Mer- 
rick, whose soul you couldn't dirty and whose 
hands you couldn't tie. Oh, you're a discriminat- 
ing lot of Christians! There have been times 
when the sight of Harvey's name in some Eastern 
270 



The Sculptor's Funeral 



paper has made me hang my head like a whipped 
dog; and, again, times when I liked to think of 
him off there in the world, away from all this 
hog-wallow, climbing the big, clean up-grade he'd 
set for himself. 

" And we ? Now that we've fought and lied 
and sweated and stolen, and hated as only the 
disappointed strugglers in a bitter, dead little 
Western town know how to do, what have we got 
to show for it? Harvey Merrick wouldn't have 
given one sunset over your marshes for all youVe 
got put together, and you know it. It's not for 
me to say why, in the inscrutable wisdom of God, 
a genius should ever have been called from this 
place of hatred and bitter waters; but I want this 
Boston man to know that the drivel he's been 
hearing here tonight is the only tribute any truly 
great man could have from such a lot of sick, side- 
tracked, burnt-dog, land-poor sharks as the here- 
present financiers of Sand City upon which 
town may God have mercy ! " 

The lawyer thrust out his hand to Steavens as 
he passed him, caught up his overcoat in the hall, 
and had left the house before the Grand Army 
man had had time to lift his ducked head and 
crane his long neck about at his fellows. 

Next day Jim Laird was drunk and unable to 
attend the funeral services. Steavens called 
twice at his office, but was compelled to start 
271 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

East without seeing him. He had a presentiment 
that he would hear from him again, and left his 
address on the lawyer's table; but if Laird found 
it, he never acknowledged it. The thing in him 
that Harvey Merrick had loved must have gone 
under ground with Harvey Merrick' s coffin; for 
it never spoke again, and Jim got the cold he 
died of driving across the Colorado mountains 
to defend one of Phelps's sons who had got into 
trouble out there by cutting government timber. 



272 



6 A Death in the Desert' 

EVERETT HILGARDE was conscious that 
the man in the seat across the aisle was 
looking at him intently. He was a large, 
florid man, wore a conspicuous diamond solitaire 
upon his third finger, and Everett judged him to 
be a travelling salesman of some sort. He had 
the air of an adaptable fellow who had been about 
the world and who could keep cool and clean 
under almost any circumstances. 

The " High Line Flyer," as this train was de- 
risively called among railroad men, was jerking 
along through the hot afternoon over the mo- 
notonous country between Holdredge and Chey- 
enne. Besides the blond man and himself the 
only occupants of the car were two dusty, be- 
draggled-looking girls who had been to the Ex- 
position at Chicago, and who were earnestly dis- 
cussing the cost of their first trip out of Colorado. 
The four uncomfortable passengers were covered 
with a sediment of fine, yellow dust which clung 
to their hair and eyebrows like gold powder. It 
blew up in clouds from the bleak, lifeless country 
through which they passed, until they were one 
273 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

colour with the sage-brush and sand-hills. The 
grey and yellow desert was varied only by occa- 
sional ruins of deserted towns, and the little red 
boxes of station-houses, where the spindling trees 
and sickly vines in the blue-grass yards made little 
green reserves fenced off in that confusing wilder- 
ness of sand. 

As the slanting rays of the sun beat in stronger 
and stronger through the car-windows, the blond 
gentleman asked the ladies' permission to remove 
his coat, and sat in his lavender striped shirt- 
sleeves, with a black silk handkerchief tucked 
about his collar. He had seemed interested in 
Everett since they had boarded the train at Hold- 
redge; kept glancing at him curiously and then 
looking reflectively out of the window, as though 
he were trying to recall something. But wher- 
ever Everett went, some one was almost sure to 
look at him with that curious interest, and it had 
ceased to embarrass or annoy him. Presently the 
stranger, seeming satisfied with his observation, 
leaned back in his seat, half closed his eyes, and 
began softly to whistle the Spring Song from 
Proserpine, the cantata that a dozen years be- 
fore had made its young composer famous in a 
night. Everett had heard that air on guitars in 
Old Mexico, on mandolins at college glees, on cot- 
tage organs in New England hamlets, and only 
two weeks ago he had heard it played on sleigh- 
274 



"A Death in the Desert" 

bells at a variety theatre in Denver. There was 
literally no way of escaping his brother's precoc- 
ity. Adriance could live on the other side of the 
Atlantic, where his youthful indiscretions were 
forgotten in his mature achievements, but his 
brother had never been able to outrun Proserpine, 
and here he found it again, in the Colorado 
sand-hills. Not that Everett was exactly ashamed 
of Proserpine; only a man of genius could have 
written it, but it was the sort of thing that a man 
of genius outgrows as soon as he can. 

Everett unbent a trifle, and smiled at his neigh- 
bour across the aisle. Immediately the large man 
rose and coming over dropped into the seat fac- 
ing Hilgarde, extending his card. 

" Dusty ride, isn't it? I don't mind it myself; 
I'm used to it. Born and bred in de briar patch, 
like Br'er Rabbit. I've been trying to place you 
for a long time ; I think I must have met you be- 
fore." 

"Thank you," said Everett, taking the card; 
" my name is Hilgarde. You've probably met my 
brother, Adriance; people often mistake me for 
him." 

The travelling-man brought his hand down 
upon his knee with such vehemence that the soli- 
taire blazed. 

" So I was right after all, and if you're not 
Adriance Hilgarde you're his double. I thought 
275 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

I couldn't be mistaken. Seen him? Well, I 
guess ! I never missed one of his recitals at the 
Auditorium, and he played the piano score of 
Proserpine through to us once at the Chicago 
Press Club. I used to be on the Commercial there 
before I began to travel for the publishing de- 
partment of the concern. So you're Hilgarde's 
brother, and here I've run into you at the jumping- 
off place. Sounds like a newspaper yarn, doesn't 
it?" 

The travelling-man laughed and offering Ever- 
ett a cigar plied him with questions on the only 
subject that people ever seemed to care to talk 
to him about. At length the salesman and the 
two girls alighted at a Colorado way station, and 
Everett went on to Cheyenne alone. 

The train pulled into Cheyenne at nine o'clock, 
late by a matter of four hours or so; but no one 
seemed particularly concerned at its tardiness ex- 
cept the station agent, who grumbled at being 
kept in the office over time on a summer night. 
When Everett alighted from the train he walked 
down the platform and stopped at the track cross- 
ing, uncertain as to what direction he should take 
to reach a hotel. A phaeton stood near the cross- 
ing and a woman held the reins. She was dressed 
in white, and her figure was clearly silhouetted 
against the cushions, though it was too dark to 
see her face. Everett had scarcely noticed her, 
276 



A Death in the Desert 



when the switch-engine came puffing up from the 
opposite direction, and the head-light threw a 
strong glare of light on his face. The woman 
in the phaeton uttered a low cry and dropped 
the reins. Everett started forward and caught 
the horse's head, but the animal only lifted its 
ears and whisked its tail in impatient surprise. 
The woman sat perfectly still, her head sunk be- 
tween her shoulders and her handkerchief pressed 
to her face. Another woman came out of the 
depot and hurried toward the phaeton, crying, 
" Katharine, dear, what is the matter? " 

Everett hesitated a moment in painful embar- 
rassment, then lifted his hat and passed on. He 
was accustomed to sudden recognitions in the most 
impossible places, especially from women. 

While he was breakfasting the next morning, 
the head waiter leaned over his chair to murmur 
that there was a gentleman waiting to see him 
in the parlour. Everett finished his coffee, and 
went in the direction indicated, where he found 
his visitor restlessly pacing the floor. His whole 
manner betrayed a high degree of agitation, 
though his physique was not that of a man whose 
nerves lie near the surface. He was something 
below medium height, square-shouldered and 
solidly built. His thick, closely cut hair was be- 
ginning to show grey about the ears, and his 
bronzed face was heavily lined. His square 
277 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

brown hands were locked behind him, and he held 
his shoulders like a man conscious of responsibil- 
ities, yet, as he turned to greet Everett, there 
was an incongruous diffidence in his address. 

" Good-morning, Mr. Hilgarde," he said, ex- 
tending his hand; " I found your name on the 
hotel register. My name is Gaylord. I'm afraid 
my sister startled you at the station last night, 
and I've come around to explain." 

u Ah! the young lady in the phaeton? I'm 
sure I didn't know whether I had anything to do 
with her alarm or not. If I did, it is I who owe 
an apology." 

The man coloured a little under the dark 
brown of his face. 

" Oh, it's nothing you could help, sir, I fully 
understand that. You see, my sister used to be a 
pupil of your brother's, and it seems you favour 
him; when the switch-engine threw a light on 
your face, it startled her." 

Everett wheeled about in his chair. " Oh ! 
Katharine Gaylord ! Is it possible ! Why, I used 
to know her when I was a boy. What on 
earth " 

" Is she doing here?" Gaylord grimly filled 
out the pause. " You've got at the heart of the 
matter. You know my sister had been in bad 
health for a long time? " 

" No. The last I knew of her she was singing 
278 



A Death in the Desert 



in London. My brother and I correspond infre- 
quently, and seldom get beyond family matters. 
I am deeply sorry to hear this." 

The lines in Charley Gaylord's brow relaxed a 
little. 

" What I'm trying to say, Mr. Hilgarde, is that 
she wants to see you. She's set on it. We live 
several miles out of town, but my rig's below, and 
I can take you out any time you can go." 

" At once, then. I'll get my hat and be with 
you in a moment." 

When he came downstairs Everett found a cart 
at the door, and Charley Gaylord drew a long 
sigh of relief as he gathered up the reins and set- 
tled back into his own element. 

" I think I'd better tell you something about 
my sister before you see her, and I don't know 
just where to begin. She travelled in Europe 
with your brother and his wife, and sang at a lot 
of his concerts; but I don't know just how much 
you know about her." 

u Very little, except that my brother always 
thought her the most gifted of his pupils. When 
I knew her she was very young and very beautiful, 
and quite turned my head for a while." 

Everett saw that Gaylord's mind was entirely 
taken up by his grief. " That's the whole thing," 
he went on, flecking his horses with the whip. 

" She was a great woman, as you say, and she 
279 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

didn't come of a great family. She had to fight 
her own way from the first. She got to Chicago, 
and then to New York, and then to Europe, and 
got a taste for it all; and now she's dying here like 
a rat in a hole, out of her own world, and she 
can't fall back into ours. We've grown apart, 
some way miles and miles apart and I'm 
afraid she's fearfully unhappy." 

" It's a tragic story you're telling me, Gay- 
lord," said Everett. They were well out into the 
country now, spinning along over the dusty plains 
of red grass, with the ragged blue outline of the 
mountains before them. 

" Tragic ! " cried Gaylord, starting up in his 
seat, " my God, nobody will ever know how tragic ! 
It's a tragedy I live with and eat with and sleep 
with, until I've lost my grip on everything. You 
see she had made a good bit of money, but she 
spent it all going to health resorts. It's her 
lungs. I've got money enough to send her any- 
where, but the doctors all say it's no use. She 
hasn't the ghost of a chance. It's just getting 
through the days now. I had no notion she was 
half so bad before she came to me. She just 
wrote that she was run down. Now that she's 
here, I think she'd be happier anywhere under the 
sun, but she won't leave. She says it's easier to 
let go of life here. There was a time^when I 
was a brakeman with a run out of Bird City, 
280 



A Death in the Desert 



Iowa, and she was a little thing I could carry on 
my shoulder, when I could get her everything on 
earth she wanted, and she hadn't a wish my $80 
a month didn't cover; and now, when I've got a 
little property together, I can't buy her a night's 
sleep ! " 

Everett saw that, whatever Charley Gaylord's 
present status in the world might be, he had 
brought the brakeman's heart up the ladder with 
him. 

The reins slackened in Gaylord's hand as they 
drew up before a showily painted house with many 
gables and a round tower. " Here we are," he 
said, turning to Everett, " and I guess we under- 
stand each other. 

They were met at the door by a thin, colour- 
less woman, whom Gaylord introduced as " My 
sister, Maggie." She asked her brother to show 
Mr. Hilgarde into the music-room, where Kath- 
arine would join him. 

When Everett entered the music-room he gave 
a little start of surprise, feeling that he had step- 
ped from the glaring Wyoming sunlight into some 
New York studio that he had always known. He 
looked incredulously out of the window at the 
grey plain that ended in the great upheaval of the 
Rockies. 

Thejiaunting air of familiarity perplexed him. 
Suddenly his eye fell upon a large photograph of 
281 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

his brother above the piano. Then it all became 
clear enough: this was veritably his brother's 
room. If it were not an exact copy of one of the 
many studios that Adriance had fitted up in vari- 
ous parts of the world, wearying of them and 
leaving almost before the renovator's varnish had 
dried, it was at least in the same tone. In every 
detail Adriance's taste was so manifest that the 
room seemed to exhale his personality. 

Among the photographs on the wall there was 
one of Katharine Gaylord, taken in the days 
when Everett had known her, and when the flash 
of her eye or the flutter of her skirt was enough 
to set his boyish heart in a tumult. Even now, he 
stood before the portrait with a certain degree of 
embarrassment. It was the face of a woman al- 
ready old in her first youth, a trifle hard, and it 
told of what her brother had called her fight. 
The camaraderie of her frank, confident eyes was 
qualified by the deep lines about her mouth and 
the curve of the lips, which was both sad and 
cynical. Certainly she had more good-will than 
confidence toward the world. The chief charm 
of the woman, as Everett had known her, lay in 
her superb figure and in her eyes, which possessed 
a warm, life-giving quality like the sunlight; eyes 
which glowed with a perpetual salutat to the 
world. i 

Everett was still standing before the picture, his 
282 



A Death in the Desert 



hands behind him and his head inclined, when he 
heard the door open. A tall woman advanced 
toward him, holding out her hand. As she 
started to speak she coughed slightly, then, laugh- 
ing, said, in a low, rich voice, a trifle husky: 
" You see I make the traditional Camille entrance. 
How good of you to come, Mr. Hilgarde." 

Everett was acutely conscious that while ad- 
dressing him she was not looking at him at all, 
and, as he assured her of his pleasure in coming, 
he was glad to have an opportunity to collect him- 
self. He had not reckoned upon the ravages of 
a long illness. The long, loose folds of her white 
gown had been especially designed to conceal the 
sharp outlines of her body, but the stamp of her 
disease was there; simple and ugly and obtrusive, 
a pitiless fact that could not be disguised or 
evaded. The splendid shoulders were stooped, 
there was a swaying unevenness in her gait, her 
arms seemed disproportionately long, and her 
hands were transparently white, and cold to the 
touch. The changes in her face were less obvi- 
ous; the proud carriage of the head, the warm, 
clear eyes, even the delicate flush of colour in her 
cheeks, all defiantly remained, though they were 
all in a lower key older, sadder, softer. 

She sat down upon the divan and began nerv- 
ously to arrange the pillows. u Of course I'm ill, 
and I look it, but you must be quite frank and 
283 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

sensible about that and get used to it at once, 
for we've no time to lose. And if I'm a trifle 
irritable you won't mind? for I'm more than 
usually nervous." 

" Don't bother with me this morning, if you are 
tired," urged Everett. " I can come quite as well 



tomorrow." 



" Gracious, no! " she protested, with a flash of 
that quick, keen humour that he remembered as 
a part of her. " It's solitude that I'm tired to 
death of solitude and the wrong kind of people. 
You see, the minister called on me this morning. 
He happened to be riding by on his bicycle and 
felt it his duty to stop. The funniest feature of 
his conversation is that he is always excusing my 
own profession to me. But how we are losing 
time ! Do tell me about New York ; Charley says 
you're just on from there. How does it look and 
taste and smell just now? I think a whiff of the 
Jersey ferry would be as flagons of cod-liver oil 
to me. Are the trees still green in Madison 
Square, or have they grown brown and dusty? 
Does the chaste Diana still keep her vows through 
all the exasperating changes of weather? Who 
has your brother's old studio now, and what mis- 
guided aspirants practise their scales in the rook- 
eries about Carnegie Hall? What do people go 
to see at the theatres, and what do they eat and 
284 



A Death in the Desert 



drink in the world nowadays? Oh, let me die in 
Harlem ! " she was interrupted by a violent at- 
tack of coughing, and Everett, embarrassed by 
her discomfort, plunged into gossip about the pro- 
fessional people he had met in town during the 
summer, and the musical outlook for the winter. 
He was diagramming with his pencil some new 
mechanical device to be used at the Metropolitan 
in the production of the Rheingold, when he be- 
came conscious that she was looking at him in- 
tently, and that he was talking to the four walls. 

Katharine was lying back among the pillows, 
watching him through half-closed eyes, as a 
painter looks at a picture. He finished his ex- 
planation vaguely enough and put the pencil back 
in his pocket. As he did so, she said, quietly: 
u How wonderfully like Adriance you are ! " 

He laughed, looking up at her with a touch of 
pride in his eyes that made them seem quite boy- 
ish. " Yes, isn't it absurd? It's almost as awk- 
ward as looking like Napoleon But, after all, 
there are some advantages. It has made some 
of his friends like me, and I hope it will make 
you." 

Katharine gave him a quick, meaning glance 
from under her lashes. " Oh, it did that long 
ago. What a haughty, reserved youth you were 
then, and how you used to stare at people, and 

285 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

then blush and look cross. Do you remember 
that night you took me home from a rehearsal, 
and scarcely spoke a word to me? " 

" It was the silence of admiration," protested 
Everett, " very crude and boyish, but certainly 
sincere. Perhaps you suspected something of the 
sort?" 

u I believe I suspected a pose; the one that boys 
often affect with singers. But it rather surprised 
me in you, for you must have seen a good deal 
of your brother's pupils." Everett shook his 
head. " I saw my brother's pupils come and go. 
Sometimes I was called on to play accompani- 
ments, or to fill out a vacancy at a rehearsal, or to 
order a carriage for an infuriated soprano who 
had thrown up her part. But they never spent 
any time on me, unless it was to notice the resem- 
blance you speak of." 

" Yes," observed Katharine, thoughtfully, " I 
noticed it then, too ; but it has grown as you have 
grown older. That is rather strange, when you 
have lived such different lives. It's not merely an 
ordinary family likeness of features, you know, 
but the suggestion of the other man's personality 
in your face like an air transposed to another 
key. But I'm not attempting to define it; it's be- 
yond me; something altogether unusual and a 
trifle well, uncanny," she finished, laughing. 

Everett sat looking out under the red window- 
286 



A Death in the Desert 



blind which was raised just a little. As it swung 
back and forth in the wind it revealed the glaring 
panorama of the desert a blinding stretch of 
yellow, flat as the sea in dead calm, splotched here 
and there with deep purple shadows; and, beyond, 
the ragged blue outline of the mountains and the 
peaks of snow, white as the white clouds. " I re- 
member, when I was a child I used to be very sen- 
sitive about it. I don't think it exactly displeased 
me, or that I would have had it otherwise, but it 
seemed like a birthmark, or something not to be 
lightly spoken of. It came into even my relations 
with my mother. Ad went abroad to study when 
he was very young, and mother was all broken up 
over it. She did her whole duty by each of us, but 
it was generally understood among us that she'd 
have made burnt-offerings of us all for him any 
day. I was a little fellow then, and when she 
sat alone on the porch on summer evenings, she 
used sometimes to call me to her and turn my face 
up in the light that streamed out through the 
shutters and kiss me, and then I always knew she 
was thinking of Adriance." 

" Poor little chap," said Katharine, in her 
husky voice. " How fond people have always 
been of Adriance! Tell me the latest news of 
him. I haven't heard, except through the press, 
for a year or more. He was in Algiers then, in 
the valley of the Chelif, riding horseback, and he 
287 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

had quite made up his mind to adopt the Ma- 
hometan faith and become an Arab. How many 
countries and faiths has he adopted, I wonder?" 

" Oh, that's Adriance," chuckled Everett. 
" He is himself barely long enough to write checks 
and be measured for his clothes. I didn't hear 
from him while he was an Arab; I missed that." 

" He was writing an Algerian suite for the 
piano then; it must be in the publisher's hands by 
this time. I have been too ill to answer his 
letter, and have lost touch with him." 

Everett drew an envelope from his pocket. 
" This came a month ago. Read it at your 
leisure." 

" Thanks. I shall keep it as a hostage. Now 
I want you to play for me. Whatever you like ; 
but if there is anything new in the world, in mercy 
let me hear it." 

He sat down at the piano, and Katharine sat 
near him, absorbed in his remarkable physical 
likeness to his brother, and trying to discover in 
just what it consisted. He was of a larger build 
than Adriance, and much heavier. His face was 
of the same oval mould, but it was grey, and dark- 
ened about the mouth by continual shaving. His 
eyes were of the same inconstant April colour, but 
they were reflective and rather dull; while Adri- 
ance's were always points of high light, and al- 
ways meaning another thing than the thing they 
288 



A Death in the Desert 



meant yesterday. It was hard to see why this 
earnest man should so continually suggest that 
lyric, youthful face, as gay as his was grave. For 
Adriance, though he was ten years the elder, and 
though his hair was streaked with silver, had the 
face of a boy of twenty, so mobile that it told his 
thoughts before he could put them into words. A 
contralto, famous for the extravagance of her 
vocal methods and of her affections, once said that 
the shepherd-boys who sang in the Vale of Tempe 
must certainly have looked like young Hilgarde. 

Everett sat smoking on the veranda of the In- 
ter-Ocean House that night, the victim of mourn- 
ful recollections. His infatuation for Katharine 
Gaylord, visionary as it was, had been the most 
serious of his boyish love-affairs. The fact that it 
was all so done and dead and far behind him, and 
that the woman had lived her life out since then, 
gave him an oppressive sense of age and loss. 

He remembered how bitter and morose he had 
grown during his stay at his brother's studio when 
Katharine Gaylord was working there, and how 
he had wounded Adriance on the night of his last 
concert in New York. He had sat there in the 
box while his brother and Katherine were 
called back again and again, and the flowers went 
up over the footlights until they were stacked half 
as high as the piano brooding in his sullen boy's 
289 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

heart upon the pride those two felt in each other's 
work spurring each other to their best and 
beautifully contending in song. The footlights 
had seemed a hard, glittering line drawn sharply 
between their life and his. He walked back to 
his hotel alone, and sat in his window staring out 
on Madison Square until long after midnight, re- 
solved to beat no more at doors that he could 
never enter. 

Everett's week in Cheyenne stretched to three, 
and he saw no prospect of release except through 
the thing he dreaded. The bright, windy days of 
the Wyoming autumn passed swiftly. Letters 
and telegrams came urging him to hasten his trip 
to the coast, but he resolutely postponed his busi- 
ness engagements. The mornings he spent on 
one of Charley Gaylord's ponies, or fishing in the 
mountains. In the afternoon he was usually at 
his post of duty. Destiny, he reflected, seems to 
have very positive notions about the sort of parts 
we are fitted to play. The scene changes and the 
compensation varies, but in the end we usually find 
that we have played the same class of business 
from first to last. Everett had been a stop-gap 
all his life. He remembered going through a 
looking-glass labyrinth when he was a boy, and 
trying gallery after gallery, only at every turn to 
bump his nose against his own face which, in- 
290 



A Death in the Desert 



deed, was not his own, but his brother's. No 
matter what his mission, east or west, by land or 
sea, he was sure to find himself employed in his 
brother's business, one of the tributary lives 
which helped to swell the shining current of 
Adriance Hilgarde's. It was not the first time 
that his duty had been to comfort, as best he could, 
one of the broken things his brother's imperious 
speed had cast aside and forgotten. He made 
no attempt to analyse the situation or to state it 
in exact terms ; but he accepted it as a commission 
from his brother to help this woman to die. Day 
by day he felt her need for him grow more acute 
and positive; and day by day he felt that in his 
peculiar relation to her, his own individuality 
played a smaller part. His power to minister 
to her comfort lay solely in his link with his 
brother's life. He knew that she sat by him 
always watching for some trick of gesture, some 
familiar play of expression, some illusion of light 
and shadow, in which he should seem wholly 
Adriance. He knew that she lived upon this, and 
that in the exhaustion which followed this tur- 
moil of her dying senses, she slept deep and 
sweet, and dreamed of youth and art and days in 
a certain old Florentine garden, and not of bit- 
terness and death. 

A few days after his first meeting with Kath- 
arine Gaylord, he had cabled his brother to write 
291 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

her. He merely said that she was mortally ill; 
he could depend on Adriance to say the right thing 
that was a part of his gift. Adriance always 
said not only the right thing, but the opportune, 
graceful, exquisite thing. He caught the lyric 
essence of the moment, the poetic suggestion of 
every situation. Moreover, he usually did the 
right thing, except, when he did very cruel 
things bent upon making people happy when 
their existence touched his, just as he insisted that 
his material environment should be beautiful; 
lavishing upon those near him all the warmth and 
radiance of his rich nature, all the homage of the 
poet and troubadour, and, when they were no 
longer near, forgetting for that also was a part 
of Adriance's gift. 

Three weeks after Everett had sent his cable, 
when he made his daily call at the gaily painted 
ranch-house, he found Katharine laughing like a 
girl. " Have you ever thought," she said, as he 
entered the music-room, " how much these 
seances of ours are like Heine's ' Florentine 
Nights,' except that I don't give you an oppor- 
tunity to monopolize the conversation?" She 
held his hand longer than usual as she greeted 
him. " You are the kindest man living, the kind- 
est," she added, softly. 

Everett's grey face coloured faintly as he drew 
his hand away, for he felt that this time she was 
292 



A Death in the Desert 



looking at him, and not at a whimsical caricature 
of his brother. 

She drew a letter with a foreign postmark from 
between the leaves of a book and held it out, 
smiling. " You got him to write it. Don't say 
you didn't, for it came direct, you see, and the last 
address I gave him was a place in Florida. This 
deed shall be remembered of you when I am with 
the just in Paradise. But one thing you did not 
ask him to do, for you didn't know about it. He 
has sent me his latest work, the new sonata, and 
you are to play it for me directly. But first for 
the letter ; I think you would better read it aloud 
to me." 

Everett sat down in a low chair facing the win- 
dow-seat in which she reclined with a barricade of 
pillows behind her. He opened the letter, his 
lashes half-veiling his kind eyes, and saw to his 
satisfaction that it was a long one; wonderfully 
tactful and tender, even for Adriance, who was 
tender with his valet and his stable-boy, with his 
old gondolier and the beggar-women who prayed 
to the saints for him. 

The letter was from Granada, written in the 
Alhambra, as he sat by the fountain of the Patio 
di Lindaraxa. The air was heavy with the warm 
fragrance of the South and full of the sound of 
splashing, running water, as it had been in a cer- 
tain old garden in Florence, long ago. The sky 

293 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

was one great turquoise, heated until it glowed. 
The wonderful Moorish arches threw graceful 
blue shadows all about him. He had sketched an 
outline of them on the margin of his note-paper. 
The letter was full of confidences about his work, 
and delicate allusions to their old happy days of 
study and comradeship. 

As Everett folded it he felt that Adriance had 
divined the thing needed and had risen to it in 
his own wonderful way. The letter was con- 
sistently egotistical, and seemed to him even a 
trifle patronizing, yet it was just what she had 
wanted. A strong realization of his brother's 
charm and intensity and power came over him; he 
felt the breath of that whirlwind of flame in which 
Adriance passed, consuming all in his path, and 
himself even more resolutely than he consumed 
others. Then he looked down at this white, 
burnt-out brand that lay before him. 

"Like him, isn't it?" she said, quietly. "I 
think I can scarcely answer his letter, but when 
you see him next you can do that for me. I want 
you to tell him many things for me, yet they can 
all be summed up in this: I want him to grow 
wholly into his best and greatest self, even at the 
cost of what is half his charm to you and me. 
Do you understand me? " 

" I know perfectly well what you mean," an- 
swered Everett, thoughtfully. " And yet it's dif- 
294 



A Death in the Desert 



ficult to prescribe for those fellows; so little 
makes, so little mars." 

Katharine raised herself upon her elbow, and 
her face flushed with feverish earnestness. " Ah, 
but it is the waste of himself that I mean; his 
lashing himself out on stupid and uncomprehend- 
ing people until they take him at their own esti- 
mate." 

" Come, come," expostulated Everett, now 
alarmed at her excitement. " Where is the new 
sonata ? Let him speak for himself." 

He sat down at the piano and began playing 
the first movement, which was indeed the voice of 
Adriance, his proper speech. The sonata was the 
most ambitious work he had done up to that time, 
and marked the transition from his early lyric 
vein to a deeper and nobler style. Everett played 
intelligently and with that sympathetic compre- 
hension which seems peculiar to a certain lovable 
class of men who never accomplish anything in 
particular. When he had finished he turned to 
Katharine. 

" How he has grown ! " she cried. " What the 
three last years have done for him ! He used to 
write only the tragedies of passion; but this is the 
tragedy of effort and failure, the thing Keats 
called hell. This is my tragedy, as I lie here, 
listening to the feet of the runners as they pass 
me ah, God ! the swift feet of the runners ! " 
295 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

She turned her face away and covered it with 
her hands. Everett crossed over to her and knelt 
beside her. In all the days he had known her she 
had never before, beyond an occasional ironical 
jest, given voice to the bitterness of her own de- 
feat. Her courage had become a point of pride 
with him. 

" Don't do it," he gasped. " I can't stand it, I 
really can't, I feel it too much." 

When she turned her face back to him there 
was a ghost of the old, brave, cynical smile on it, 
more bitter than the tears she could not shed. 
" No, I won't; I will save that for the night, when 
I have no better company. Run over that theme 
at the beginning again, will you? It was run- 
ning in his head when we were in Venice years ago, 
and he used to drum it on his glass at the dinner- 
table. He had just begun to work it out when 
the late autumn came on, and he decided to go to 
Florence for the winter. He lost touch with his 
idea, I suppose, during his illness. Do you re- 
member those frightful days? All the people 
who have loved him are not strong enough to save 
him from himself! When I got word from 
Florence that he had been ill, I was singing at 
Monte Carlo. His wife was hurrying to him 
from Paris, but I reached him first. I arrived at 
dusk, in a terrific storm. They had taken an old 
palace there for the winter, and I found him in the 
296 



"A Death in the Desert" 

library a long, dark room full of old Latin 
books and heavy furniture and bronzes. He was 
sitting by a wood fire at one end of the room, 
looking, oh, so worn and pale ! as he always 
does when he is ill, you know. Ah, it is so good 
that you do know! Even his red smoking-jacket 
lent no colour to his face. His first words were 
not to tell me how ill he had been, but that that 
morning he had been well enough to put the last 
strokes to the score of his ' Souvenirs d' Automne' 
and he was as I most like to remember him; 
calm and happy, and tired with that heavenly 
tiredness that comes after a good work done at 
last. Outside, the rain poured down in torrents, 
and the wind moaned and sobbed in the garden 
and about the walls of that desolated old palace. 
How that night comes back to me ! There were 
no lights in the room, only the wood fire. It 
glowed on the black walls and floor like the re- 
flection of purgatorial flame. Beyond us it 
scarcely penetrated the gloom .at all. Adriance 
sat staring at the fire with the weariness of all his 
life in his eyes, and of all the other lives that 
must aspire and suffer to make up one such life as 
his. Somehow the wind with all its world-pain 
had got into the room, and the cold rain was in 
our eyes, and the wave came up in both of us at 
once that awful vague, universal pain, that cold 
fear of life and death and God and hope and we 
297 



Youth and the Bright Medusa^ 

were like two clinging together on a spar in mid- 
o^ean after the shipwreck of everything. Then 
we heard the front door open with a great gust 
of wind that shook even the walls, and the 
servants came running with lights, announcing that 
Madame had returned, ' and in the book we read 
no more that night! ' 

She gave the old line with a certain bitter 
humour, and with the hard, bright smile in which 
of old she had wrapped her weakness as in a glit- 
tering garment. That ironical smile, worn 
through so many years, had gradually changed the 
lines of her face, and when she looked in the mir- 
ror she saw not herself, but the scathing critic, 
the amused observer and satirist of herself. 

Everett dropped his head upon his hand. 
M How much you have cared ! " he said. 

" Ah, yes, I cared," she replied, closing her 
eyes. " You can't imagine what a comfort it is 
to have you know how I cared, what a relief it 
is to be able to tell it to some one." 

Everett continued to look helplessly at the floor. 
" I was not sure how much you wanted me to 
know," he said. 

" Oh, I intended you should know from the 

first time I looked into your face, when you came 

that day with Charley. You are so like him, that 

it is almost like telling him himself. At least, I 

298 



A Death in the Desert 



feel now that he will know some day, and then I 
will be quite sacred from his compassion." 

"And has he never known at all?" asked 
Everett, in a thick voice. 

" Oh ! never at all in the way that you mean. 
Of course, he is accustomed to looking into the 
eyes of women and finding love there; when he 
doesn't find it there he thinks he must have been 
guilty of some discourtesy. He has a genuine 
fondness for every woman who is not stupid or 
gloomy, or old or preternaturally ugly. I shared 
with the rest; shared the smiles and the gallantries 
and the droll little sermons. It was quite like a 
Sunday-school picnic; we wore our best clothes 
and a smile and took our turns. It was his kind- 
ness that was hardest." 

" Don't; you'll make me hate him," groaned 
Everett. 

Katherine laughed and began to play nervously 
with her fan. " It wasn't in the slightest degree 
his fault; that is the most grotesque part of it. 
Why, it had really begun before I ever met him. 
I fought my way to him, and I drank my doom 
greedily enough." 

Everett rose and stood hesitating. " I think I 
must go. You ought to be quiet, and I don't 
think I can hear any more just now." 

She put out her hand and took his playfully. 
299 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

1 You've put in three weeks at this sort of thing, 
haven't you? Well, it ought to square accounts 
for a much worse life than yours will ever be." 

He knelt beside her, saying, brokenly: "I 
stayed because I wanted to be with you, that's all. 
I have never cared about other women since I 
knew you in New York when I was a lad. You 
are a part of my destiny, and I could not leave 
you if I would." 

She put her hands on his shoulders and shook 
her head. " No, no; don't tell me that. I have 
seen enough tragedy. It was only a boy's fancy, 
and your divine pity and my utter pitiableness 
have recalled it for a moment. One does not 
love the dying, dear friend. Now go, and you 
will come again tomorrow, as long as there are 
tomorrows." She took his hand with a smile 
that was both courage and despair, and full of in- 
finite loyalty and tenderness, as she said softly : 

" For ever and for ever, farewell, Cassius; 
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile; 
If not, why then, this parting was well made." 

The courage in her eyes was like the clear light 
of a star to him as he went out. 

On the night of Adriance Hilgarde's opening 

concert in Paris, Everett sat by the bed in the 

ranch-house in Wyoming, watching over the last 

battle that w6s]iave with the flesh before we are 

300 



"A Death in the Desert" 

done with it and free of it for ever. At times it 
seemed that the serene soul of her must have left 
already and found some refuge from the storm, 
and only the tenacious animal life were left to do 
battle with death. She laboured under a delusion 
at once pitiful and merciful, thinking that she was 
in the Pullman on her way to New York, going 
back to her life and her work. When she roosed 
from her stupor, it was only to ask the porter to 
waken her half an hour out of Jersey City, or to 
remonstrate about the delays and the roughness 
of the road. At midnight Everett and the nurse 
were left alone with her. Poor Charley Gaylord 
had lain down on a couch outside the door. 
Everett sat looking at the sputtering night-lamp 
until it made his eyes ache. His head dropped 
forward, and he sank into heavy, distressful 
slumber. He was dreaming of Adriance's con- 
cert in Paris, and of Adriance, the troubadour. 
He heard the applause and he saw the flowers go- 
ing up over the footlights until they were stacked 
half as high as the piano, and the petals fell and 
scattered, making crimson splotches on the floor. 
Down this crimson pathway came Adriance with 
his youthful step, leading his singer by the hand; 
a dark woman this time, with Spanish eyes. 

The nurse touched him on the shoulder, he 
started and awoke. She screened the lamp with 
her hand. Everett saw that Katharine was 
301 



Youth and the Bright Medusa 

awake and conscious, and struggling a little. He 
lifted her gently on his arm and began to fan 
her. She looked into his face with eyes that 
seemed never to have wept or doubted. u Ah, 
dear Adriance, dear, dear ! " she whispered. 

Everett went to call her brother, but when they 
came back the madness of art was over for 
Katharine. 

Two days later Everett was pacing the station 
siding, waiting for the west-bound train. Charley 
Gaylord walked beside him, but the two men had 
nothing to say to each other. Everett's bags 
were piled on the truck, and his step was hurried 
and his eyes were full of impatience, as he gazed 
again and again up the track, watching for the 
train. Gaylord's impatience was not less than 
his own; these two, who had grown so close, had 
now become painful and impossible to each other, 
and longed for the wrench of farewell. 

As the train pulled in, Everett wrung Gaylord's 
hand among the crowd of alighting passengers. 
The people of a German opera company, en route 
for the coast, rushed by them in frantic haste to 
snatch their breakfast during the stop. Everett 
heard an exclamation, and a stout woman rushed 
up to him, glowing with joyful surprise and caught 
his coat-sleeve with her tightly gloved hands. 

11 H err Gott, Adriance, lieber Freund," she 
cried. 

302 



A Death in the Desert 



Everett lifted his hat, blushing. 4 Pardon me, 
madame, I see that you have mistaken me for 
Adriance Hilgarde. I am his brother." Turn- 
ing from the crestfallen singer he hurried into the 
car. 



THE END 



303 



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